Faith, spirit; technology, evolution; heart.
The return; the extinction; the fall.
Humanity will always be at flaw.
“I do not see why man should not be as cruel as nature.”
"Excuse me! Excuse me sir! May I have a moment?"
The young reporter made her way through the crowd with her camera man close behind, despite the rain she desperately wanted to get the latest on what had happened for her blog and pod cast.
Boldly she approached the line of police officers with a microphone in her hand and pointed it to the closest sentry, but he said nothing and continued to guard metal barriers with the assault rifle firm in his hands.
"Please just anything. The families of the victims have the right to know." Chantel pleaded, and with that the guard hesitated but gave in. He looked at Chantel and answered.
"The criminals have been pacified and the area is clear but no one is getting in. Not for a long time."
"Can you tell us more about what happened?" the sentinel tilted his head to see what his fellow serviceman thought and they both looked at each other for a moment. The sentinel looked back at Chantel and answered.
"We're still investigating ma'am."
"Surely you know more than that don't you?" she looked up at him more tenaciously. Despite her height the young blonde was a persistent one.
"I..." the sentinel stopped himself from saying any more and simply shook his head.
"Alright, thank you for your time." suddenly the young news reporter turned around and made her way out the crowd.
“Chantel what the hell was that? We barely got any information.” her cameraman argued when they finally made it out the crowd.
“He’s a uniform, more than likely he didn’t know much to begin with.” Chantel shrugged off.
“Alright, well what are we going to do now then?”
“Come on we’re going around.” Chantel said as she started to walk in a new direction.
“Come on, we might run into a detective or lieutenant... or something." Chantel kept walking from the main gate and towards the walls that had not been blocked by the crowd.
“You gamble too much with your cards.” Tyler commented as he walked with her.
She walked along the wall with her subordinate close behind. The base of the wall was two feet and made of concrete whilst the rest of the eight feet was glass that projected holograms of advertisements and other things of the sort when they were active.
“Chantel, I’m not sure this is a good idea.” he was concerned for both his and her safety but more for Chantel. He was more prepared for rain wearing his typical attire of cargo pants and blouse in contrast to Chantel’s typical news reporter outfit.
“This place is huge, I mean it’s almost the size of a small city right? They clearly don’t have enough officers to watch the whole place. Nothing will happen. At the very least we might be able to get some good shots.”
“Gah, fine alright"
“That’s the spirit!”
The two walked around and as Chantel predicted most of the guards were standing at all the entrances or really any location that a human could enter. Even the sewers were blocked off by police officers but not every blind spot was covered.
“Chantel it’s still raining and we’ve gotten nothing so far.”
“No that’s not quite true my dear Ty. Take a good look at the rooftops.” he looked up at the buildings to confirm what he remembered then looked back at Chantel.
“Yeah, SWAT teams are up there. Nothing weird about it.”
“But you see, from what we’ve gathered from witnesses they came down with helicopters and landed there.”
“So who was inside shooting the bad guys?” his eyes widened. The thought never really crossed his mind, The SWAT teams never infiltrated the buildings did they.
“And when did they even get here and how? Plus who are the bad guys anyways? Sounded like they had some military grade weapons.” Chantel continued.
“Alright fair point, fair point. Even then what are we supposed to do though?”
“I don’t know... I’m sure something will pop up.”
Through the rain the two walked along the perimeters of the shopping center turning their heads every now and then hoping to find something that could help tell the story of what happened here. When they made a turn around the corner a group of 5 sentinels were guarding a door to the inside of the shopping center. One of the guards noticed them and took action.
“What are you kids doing here?”
“We’re reporting for....”
“It isn’t safe here go home!” he scolded.
“All we’re doing is walking around. The place is safe now isn’t it?” the three Uniforms looked at each other with uncertainty on their faces. Right there Chantel had them where she wanted them, “Well you know... don’t you?”
“Just because it’s safe now doesn’t mean it will be later.”
“But you apprehended all the criminals right?” the uniform took a moment to think about what to say next.
“That isn’t the point. You shouldn’t…” suddenly an explosion went off and there were gunshots and the front gates were the epicenter of it all.
“Shit.” one of the five guards started to run to the main gate and soon enough he was followed by the other four.
“You kids get to safety now!” he said as he and his team rushed to engage.
Chantel stood still and waited for a moment then something came to her. A command was given to her in her self conscience.
Quickly Chantel went through the entrance that was conveniently left unlocked. Her subordinate on the other hand looked at Chantel then back and took a split second to think.
“Dammit.” he sprinted to Chantel.
“Come on, in there.” Chantel told him once he caught up. She pointed into the entrance of the shopping centers very own subway.
As they ran down the 20 steps they could hear more gunshots from outside intensify but with each step they took going down the sounds faded.
“Chantel, what the hell are we doing?” Tyler asked once they made it to the bottom. Chantel shook her head.
“I don’t know. It's like a… like something told me to go in here.”
“Oh alright, that makes sense. Running in here on some hunch you have. Okay.”
“Just..! I feel like we should, alright? We’re already in here so let’s keep going.” Chantel continued to walk.
“This is crazy.”
As they walked down the subway Chantel used her phone as a torch and lit the way. The kinetic powered LED light on the smart device was bright but the darkness covered them nonetheless and for a while there seemed to be no end to the tunnel but then they saw it, pale white light in the distance marked what must have been the next stopping point. When the pair finally made it there Chantel turned off her light and her subordinate started to record on his camera.
“It’s a good thing I brought the hand held instead of the huge shoulder camera.” he responded. The .4 series camera was a reliable and steadfast which was one of the reasons Tyler chose it.
“Yeah, no kidding.”
“You wanna say something while we’re here?”
“No. Not yet. Keep recording though.”
They walked up the stairs that lead into one of the great buildings of the shopping center. The entrance of the subway was near the center of the building which was hollow.
From above there were layers of electronic banners and other decorations that were once supported by lights and holograms but were now dead and left simply hanging. At the very top of roof was a red light for emergencies such as this but the power was weak and failed to reach the bottom parts of the building.
They walked out carelessly guided by little dim blue lights from broken pieces of technology in the stores and with the lights that were given it was easy to tell that blood had been spilled. Step by step the two walked away from the radius of light from the stairs and into the dark.
“It smells horrible in here.” her subordinate complained. He was thankful he decided to buy a left handed camera so he could use his right hand to cover his nose.
“Ugh, I just stepped in something. Does your camera have a light?”
“Yeah sure. Here.” Tyler turned the light switch on only to find it was better to have kept it off.
“Oh my God.” Chantel was in absolute shock, she had stepped in an organ left by a corpse near by. Her subordinate then grabbed her wrist and pulled her to his side. The camera’s light in this action pointed towards the center of the building. There was a horrific scene. Dead bodies everywhere with foreign wounds and shattered limbs all bathed in blood.
“The terrorists did this?” Chantel asked as she stared blankly.
“It doesn’t look like bullet wounds.” then they both thought to themselves a burning question, could the culprits even be human?
Then they heard something. Something coming towards them. Something foreign. Her subordinate tried to use the camera to get a better view but before he could Chantel stopped him and grabbed his wrist and silently lead him into the store nearby. They crouched down with their backs against the wall to prevent themselves from being exposed by the glass window above their heads and waited.
The entity walked towards the center of the building, it was on the hunt. It was afraid, confused, angry, and shy and blind from the wicked experiments pulled on it. It’s entire body was sore and felt pain all over but could feel the vibrations in the air.
The two hid but eventually they could no longer avoid their nature, the very nature that saved and killed humans. Out of curiosity they moved their bodies ever so slowly above the wall and into the window so they could catch a glimpse of what might be out there. The two could not see it but they could feel it’s presence. They slowed their breathing and their heart pumped out as much blood as it could. Every fiber in their body was ready to give 110%. Judging by the noises whatever that thing might be was hitting random objects in its path with more than just two limbs and the moans it made confirmed a great fear; whatever that ‘thing’ might be it was at the very least once human.
Then they could see. Flashlights shined down at the entity from the direction it came from, most of them on the first story and a few on the second and their flashlights revealed the Horror that stood in the middle. It wore the clothes of a hospital patient but from it’s back there were four sharp and metallic spider like limbs on it’s back and its eyes were covered in bandages. Despite this you could still see the young woman it once was.
The two fireteams on the ground level rushed to surround the Horror and gave off bursts of fire as they moved. Soon enough the overwatch joined them in their assault. The Horror stood in the center of the blood bath and simply soaked up the bullets however it wouldn’t be that way for long.
The fireteam on the right flank moved swiftly into position to give the final blow but it was all in vain, the poor fools didn’t even think they would be lost, then again no human would.
With great speed the Horror assaulted the soldiers with haste, despite the wounds taken from the bullets above. It tore them with the metallic limbs by piercing their lungs then doing whatever it took to end the threat forever. Once it finished them off it moved to do the same with the other flank. Without mercy or thought the Horror tore them all apart.
After having annihilated the two teams in the first story it was over. The Horror destroyed its hunters on the first floor but was defenceless against the overwatch.
The fireteam on the second story put an end to it by finally being able to shatter its vital organs and left. Just like that. No name tag collection; no kill confirmation; nothing. They just left.
The two were frozen in fear but Chantel recovered. She stood up and followed the lights left behind by the dead soldiers.
“Come on.” Chantel said softly. Her subordinate not knowing what to do or what was what simply abided her commanded and turned the camera back on.
Chantal followed the lights left behind from the dead soldiers and walked through the massacre, she looked around for signs of life among the slaughtered and as expected there were no signs of another soul.
Closer and closer they made it to their destination, it wasn’t the lifeless body of the Horror that Chantel wanted to examine, it was something else.
Chantel looked down at the body of one of the soldiers that was more intact than the others and something caught her attention.
“A circle.” Chantel pointed out.
“The light, shine the light towards the emblem on his shoulder.” what they saw was something from an urban legend. The cold white emblem with three lines curved into a circle that represented D.A.R.K.
“They’re real.” Tyler looked at it wide eyed.
“Unbelievable.” Chantel said whilst shaking her head.
The sovereignty of Unity was one that was loved or hated. For those who spread discontent and mischief Unity always had something special in mind for them but on what scale and what judgment? For years the mythical D.A.R.K had been the filter for Unity but the public had always dismissed them as a hoax. Most of them anyways.
“What now?” her subordinate asked whilst still dazed from the discovery.
“I don’t know...”
“We should go back.”
“No wait… there might be more here.”
“What are you talking about Chantel, this is really serious now. If we don’t leave there’s a good chance we’ll get killed. We need to leave. Now.” Tyler firmly stated but it was no use. Suddenly Chantel was frozen where she was. The same voice in the back of her head spoke to her.
“It’s getting closer… run.”
“Chantel are you listening?”
“We need to run.” Chantel replied with caution in her voice as she stood up.
“Yeah away from this place.”
“No. It’s in the subway.”
“What’s in the subway?” then they heard a loud screeching noise.
“Shit. Quick hold this.” Tyler then quickly handed her the left handed camera. He took the tactical belt from the soldier which held ammo, smoke screens, a knife and a pistol, then pick up his assault rifle by the rail, “Let’s move.”
Chantel looked around and found the closest way to leave the building through signs that pointed out a corridor that connected this building to the next. She started to run and looked back at Tyler to make sure he was following.
To make it to the hall they would have to race up the dormant escalators that went up not one but three stories. Running up an elevation clearly did them no favors and with each step up they could hear behind them the screaming getting more faint.
Finally they made it to the top and quickly ran to the corridor. Upon taking their first steps into what seemed to be an endless hall they noticed the flashlight on the camera was the only source of illumination. The crystal clear glass windows on the side gave in no light, just a darkness that not even mother nature could produce.
As they ran down the screaming became even more faint at this point which should have been a good sign. Tyler took a quick glimpse behind and saw their pursuer only a few meters away. It was a pale and barefoot girl wearing a torn dress. Her eyes were without pupils and her teeth sharp enough to tear flesh. Tyler quickly looked forward again.
“Move faster!” Tyler pushed Chantel’s back and increased their speed. Finally they made it towards the end of the corridor however there was a decision that needed to be made. Left or right? Chantel had an answer.
“Left!” Chantel shouted.
This time they ended up in a tech store. Dead computers laid on top of rows of tables and the glass windows let no light in. They found that the screeching had stopped and slowed down their pace. Tyler looked behind once more and there was nothing there and the screams had finally stopped
“We need to keep moving.” Tyler then restored the light on the side of his assault rifle and put the stock against his shoulder and moved ahead of Chantel. His brother served in Unity’s Marine Expeditionary Force during the Harvest Rebellions and when he came back his brother taught him a thing or two about being a Marine and the dog tag around his neck was proof of it, “Chantel keep the camera on but turn the light off.”
“Okay.” Chantel did as she was told and followed close behind Tyler.
With diligence they made their way out of the tech store however they found themselves in a more unusual situation. A thick fog consumed them and everything in the second story. Chantel put her right hand on Tyler’s shoulder and kept recording.
“Smoke screens?” Tyler thought to himself, “No it couldn’t be. They don’t last this long and there’s no canisters. Maybe something is wrong with the pipes. Yeah that must be it. Just broken pipes.” as Tyler lead the way he eventually agreed with his self conscious that it was pointless to keep going straight since they might be walking down a long path and started to shift their course.
“No. Go straight.” the same voice from the past spoke to Chantel once more, however Chantel was not so docile this time, “Trust me.”
“Tyler, wait. We should go straight.” Chantel said softly and with uncertainty.
“Another one of your ‘feelings?’” Tyler asked.
Because they’ve done so much for us so far.
It saved us last time.
Tyler then stopped his redirection and continued the course they were already on. Soon it was clear that there was something like a wall in front of them. A few more steps and they found themselves in a clothing store which was empty of the fog.
“Looks like we’re safe for now.” Chantel said as she let go of Tyler’s shoulder.
“There’s a closet or storage room across the store. We should go in there and make ourselves a bit more safe.” Tyler pointed out, Chantel nodded.
The storage room had a good amount of room. It was wide but not too long. It still had a stockpile of clothes, boxes and clothing racks. The opposite end of the room had no door and was filled with women's clothing. To their favor they found that the light in the room still worked when they turned the light switch on. Tyler started to move some boxes to make a defensive position. Chantel on the other hand started to walk down the opposite end.
“Where are you going?” Tyler asked. Chantel stopped where she was then turned around and walked towards him.
Tyler I need you to turn around.
I’m wearing a skirt and flats.
... and it’s hard to run in a skirt and flats.
Tyler turn around I’m going to change.
Tyler finished his defensive fortifications with boxes which weren’t so defensive considering they were all full of clothes. And of course Chantel put a clothing rack behind him to prevent him from peeking.
Chantel looked through the clothes trying to find an outfit that would be of benefit to this situation however she was still picky about her outfit. In the end she decided to go with form fitting imperial blue cargo pants which ended above her ankles, a tight black long sleeve top with a white trim and blue sneakers.
Once again to her fortune there was a mirror in the room. She took off her blouse and saw the reminder that she hardly ever remembered. Around her neck hung a loose necklace with dog tags. Could it all have been true? That was the question she asked herself. She stopped her thoughts and focused on dressing. Once she finished dressing she walked over to Tyler.
“Now what?” Chantel asked as she sat down against the wall.
“This is crazy. This is all too crazy. Blood, death, Mutated humans, even D.A.R.K soldiers, this is all crazy.” Tyler stated but with that question he finally managed to remove himself from fight or flight and really try to comprehend what was going on.
“It’s not so crazy anymore. If D.A.R.K is real then every rumor about them is more than likely real too.”
“Let’s… let’s just think for a moment. What are they doing here?”
“They're doing what they do best." Chantel said as she tilted her heard to see him eye to eye. "Filtering.”
“Why here? What happened here?”
“Maybe there were terrorists here and… did whatever it is they did.” Chantel said as she looked down.
“Well these ‘terrorists’ sure as hell know how to do their job.”
“What was there to gain from doing this?” Chantel tried to reflect on what there would be to gain. Tyler on the other hand had a different idea.
“There were plenty of freaks in the Harvest Rebellions. You think they had something to do with this?” Tyler lifted his head up and looked at her; Chantel felt his gazed and turned her head the other way.
“There's a good chance ONA played a role in this.”
“Right, that's what those freaks called themselves. ONA. What a fucking nightmare. Monsters, death, D.A.R.K and now ONA.” Tyler said amused and laughing lightly. The irony of reporting news to being part of it.
Chantel once again tilted her head to look at Tyler and noticed something,
“What is that?” Chantel pointed towards a thin metallic container on the side of his belt.
“What?” Tyler moved his hands along his belt, “This?” Tyler felt the container, at one of the ends was something detachable. He took it out and found that the container stored a key.
“A keycard?” Chantel asked.
“It looks like it.” Tyler said examining the sleek black card it in front of him and turning it back and forth.
“Let me see.” she grabbed the card from his hands and read the arcane numbers on the side, without a doubt Chantel confirmed that the cards must have held medical records and other sorts of information which most likely came from original owner.
“Do you know anything about it?” Tyler asked when he noticed that Chantel was on to something.
“It’s probably an ID Card with a lot of information it… it just isn’t clear. It’s the same size as the document cards; we can probably extract the information from a data terminal and download it into a USB.” Tyler looked at her impressed and confused at the same time.
“How do you know all of this?”
“My sister.” Chantel looked up and gently put the back of her head against the wall and sighed, this was a part of her life she tried to keep private, but there was no use in keeping secrets now, “My sister was in Unity’s Interstellar Navy, Praeventores Fleet, Camulus Battalion, HMOR-3.”
“That’s a high rank for a Corpsman.” Tyler said with a surprised voice and her sister being in the Praeventores Fleet made things even more interesting; the fleet was shrouded with mystery. Chantel simply nodded.
“After her tour she just... wasn't the same. She told us stories about how wounded soldiers would come back screaming and begging to not to be sent back."
“What? Expeditionary Marines?" Tyler shook his head and tried to reason with what he heard "Moral shocked to that point..? Is that even possible?”
“They were screaming out words like demon or monster. If they weren’t knocked out or in so much pain and shock they couldn’t move they would literally coware into the corners. When the wounded would wake up they would be desperately trying to get out of bed forcing her and other corpsman and sometimes even the military police had to hold them down or if they were religious they would fanatically chant prayers."
Tyler looked at Chantal in a different light. He always thought Chantal was hiding something but not like this.
"Every time an officer asked what happened the responses were always similar, they would tell the officers the same thing. ONA had done something... something out of a horror story. Entire platoons were annihilated in the most gruesome ways; some were physically torn apart and others death from heart attacks, all of which were done in moments."
“What I…” Tyler shook his head trying to wrap his mind around this. “I thought those were just mind games and slight of hand tricks ONA did to wage psychological warfare on us.”
“With what we’ve seen… do you still believe those were just myths. Everything about this is just... paranormal.” Tyler was speechless and Chantel didn’t really know what more to say. The reality of the situation was a nightmare far beyond what they could imagine. They took a long moment to think until Tyler finally broke the silence.
“I can’t wrap my mind around what’s going on but there are… monsters out there... and I’m not waiting here to just die. Neither are you. Let’s take another moment to rest and move on to find an exit or some way out of this.” Chantel nodded.
They waited for about ten long minutes and got up. Tyler handed Chantel the pistol.
“Chantel can you…”
“I know how to use one.” Chantel took the gun in her hand and Tyler handed her three extra clips which she stored in her side pockets, thirty six bullets in total.
“What about the Camera?” Tyler asked.
“We’ll keep recording. Someone needs to find the Light.”