Hi guys. Just posting a story that I am in the process of thinking up. Hope you guys like it. I was from the military so I think I know something about how squads operate in real life
- Rifleman: PVT Smith
- Medic: Dr Lily
- Assault: LTA MacArthur
- Recon: 2LT Wilde
- Marksman: SGT Reynolds
- Demo: SSGT Abrams
- Commando: SgtMaj Cruz
- Combat Engineer: CPL Nate
They are a ragtag band of soldiers, put together as the crew to clean up Apollo.
Location: Southeast gate, Day 0, T= 0600 Hrs
"Alright men, disembark and move out in a tactical formation. Smith! Cover our nine! Abrams, cover the six. Dr Lily and I will look for any survivors. The rest, form a defensive perimeter around the truck. Go! Go! Go!" bellowed Lta MacArthur
"Damnit. What's going on anyways? Nobody ever briefs me on anything. Just cause I'm the new guy, the private, doesn't mean I get left out of the loop amiright?" complained the rifleman.
The Sergeant reassured the greenhorn: "Have faith in your officer, he's said to be a high flier in the Marine corps. In fact, I feel safer knowing he's in charge. They say he might even lead a war in the future"
"Sir! We found someone!" Dr Lily exclaimed
"Death is release!"
"Hold your horses there. We are from the Marine corps. We mean no harm. Stand down, and tell us your name" ordered MacArthur.
"They call me Ogilvy. I used to be a weapons and armour developer for the Army. I was stationed on the moon to test out our newest weapons, to see if they would function even in such harsh conditions"
"I am LTA MacArthur, Platoon Officer of the 40th Infantry battalion. Are there any other survivors around?"
"Seems like its only me in these parts. There might be survivors elsewhere, I don't know."
"Very well. I think you should stick with us. We need you to help us along the way" said MacArthur
"If we manage to survive long enough, I can provide some experimental weapons that were left behind when me and my fellow developers fled." offered Ogilvy.
The group started to move towards the huge gates.
"Abrams! Get Nate to help you open the damn gates"
An alarm rang shrill.
"Whatever's in this place, we're coming for you"
Chapter 1: Expedition
Location: Southeast gate, Day 0, T=0615 Hrs
A solitary lamp shines on the gate, occasionally flickering. The deathly silence on the moon felt ominous, yet the soldiers knew it was to be expected due to the thin atmosphere.
"Men, hold your position. I hear loud noises. 12 o clock. Wilde! You and the Sergeant cover our 6. Weapons hot!" ordered MacArthur.
"Pair up, two by two. Watch out for each other. We're in for a wild ride" remarked Wilde.
Wilde used to be the reconnaissance officer of the 40th Infantry battalion. He had been trained in jungle warfare for years, and knew the art of stealth. He was always the first one in and the last one out. Toughened by his years of training, he wasn't one to give up without a fight. Years of battle conditioning equipped him with impressive situational awareness. He knew that something was amiss when he heard the loud noises. He had a gut feeling that they were being ambushed.
Following his instinct, he headed cautiously away from the group, his Sergeant following close behind.
"They're coming from behind!" screamed Wilde.
Immediately, Sergeant Reynolds fired a high powered shot that ripped through the flesh of his adversaries.
"Sir! What are those things?"
"Just keep firing those shots! Stay away from them. We don't know what we're dealing with yet"
The rest of the squad took up positions behind the duo, and started blasting away at the enemies.
"Nate! You and Abrams watch our rear. We don't know what we're dealing with yet." commanded MacArthur
"Yessir!" replied Abrams as he proceeded to lay a few mines on their defensive perimeter.
In no time, the squad laid waste to the horde of monsters that were charging at them.
"Wh-what are those things?" A visibly shell shocked Dr Lily cried.
"Doctor, we don't know what exactly we're dealing with yet. The mission briefing given was that the heap of flesh in front used to be colonists that were infected by some sort of virus. I suggest you take a sample so we can figure out what happened here." said MacArthur.
"On my way. Sterilizing equipment now."
Dr Lily proceeded to cut off a sample of dead flesh from the heap of bodies on the ground. She then used a syringe to withdraw bodily fluids from the specimens.
"Got it. I have a blood and tissue sample."
"Alright team, stick together. We don't know what else is out there." said MacArthur.
SgtMaj Cruz was the only Special Operations Forces personnel in the squad. He was trained in incisive, covert operations. His years of training provided him with an intuitive understanding of the situation at hand. However, he did not understand why the loud noises were from the front, yet they were attacked from the back. He decided to lead the group to investigate.
"My 12 o clock, single file. Follow silently."
Slowly, they crept forward and ended up at a dead end. It was a wall of a colonist's house. Then, they heard noises again. It was coming from a loudspeaker attached to the corner of the wall. Looking at a map of Apollo, he realized the sounds were likely coming from a military base.
"Follow me, double up!"
Chapter 2: Outbreak
Location: Southern Military Basecamp, Day 0, T= 0630 Hrs
Screams filled the air, as colonists scattered around the base were being chased by straggling zombie like creatures.
"Take out the infected, do not shoot the civilians. I repeat, do not shoot the civilians." ordered Lta MacArthur.
The marksman was in his element. Immobilizing the zombies by intercepting them with his monofilament shots, he made sure that no civilians would die. Not on his watch. Meanwhile, his squad-mates took care of dispatching the immobilized monsters.
Ogilvy approached one of the colonists.
"You there, can you tell us what happened?"
"Everything was as per usual last night. The corpsmen and local marines were on their patrol routes as per normal. Us civillians were ready to head to bed after a long day at work, when all of a sudden, piercing shrieks filled the air and the next thing we know, we were running from the zombies. Some of us made it out of the buildings only to find more zombies outside. Thank god the corpsmen and marines were engaging the zombies. I thi-"
"What is it now?"
"Nevermind.. I must be seeing things"
"Tell us what you saw. It might hold some information pertaining to the situation"
"I think I saw my neighbour turning into one of them.. The zombies."
Dr Lily interjected.
"As I suspected. The tissue and blood samples indicate a large percentage of human DNA, along with some other unknown substance."
"We might have stumbled upon a conspiracy greater than any of us can comprehend." remarked 2Lt Wilde.
"Incoming!" warned Pvt Smith.
"Men! Take up positions. There are 3 entrances to the base. Pair up and take up defensive positions. Abrams! Nate! See the base's communication console? Get there and retrieve as much info as possible. Let's rock!" ordered Lta MacArthur.
The squad was split in 4. SSgt Abrams and Cpl Nate were in charge of tapping the comms console for information. Pvt Smith and Sgt Maj Cruz took the left entrance, Lta MacArthur and Dr Lily covered the bottom entrance while 2Lt Wilde and Sgt Reynolds took care of the right entrance.
"This, my boy, is how you apply your training into real life situations such as these." Sgt Maj Cruz said to Pvt Smith.
With a surge of adrenaline and applying his battle skills, he methodically mowed down the incoming hordes of zombies.
"RELOADING! Son, would you do me a favour and plant one of your sonic traps on the ground? Don't want any of that gnarly flesh on us!" shouted Sgt Maj Cruz.
"Sure thing!" was the reply.
With that, the both of them knew that they were that much safer from the incoming mob.
Meanwhile, Lta MacArthur and Dr Lily were tackling their problems.
Lta MacArthur, having put on heavy armour and added on defensive armour plates was less worried about getting a little knocked up by the zombies. He was, however worried of being surrounded by a mob. He stood in front of Dr Lily, but he crouched so that Dr Lily could get a few good shots at the incoming horde.
<blam blam blam>
Silently, a couple of zombies crept up behind Lta MacArthur.
<clunk clunk clunk>
"Lily! Help get them off my back. Don't want the zombies damaging the battery pack."
Lta MacArthur knew it would be really hard to survive without my life support system and the shielding it provides. Without much hesitation, Dr Lily picked up the nearest object, a crowbar and proceeded to smack the heads of the zombies. She found it rather satisfying to unleash her pent up fears and emotions in this way.
"Got your back, MacArthur! And I mean it literally." joked Dr Lily.
The duo started to form an unlikely partnership. One was a tough military nut, grizzly and rough, while the other was seen as the demure, gentle and nurturing healer. Few scenarios apart from this would result in these two polar opposites working together. The two of them realized it as well. Things were strictly professional. There was a lot at stake.
Meanwhile, 2Lt Wilde and Sgt Reynolds were cleaning up the rest of the mob.
Sgt Reynolds loaded his weapon with armour piercing rounds.
A high powered shot flew straight and true, ripping off the heads of 6 zombies standing in a straight line.
The next 4 zombies fell in unison.
"There's too many! Deploying countermeasures." shouted 2Lt Wilde.
He threw a tiny ball into the mob which exploded midair, dazzling and slowing the mob. Sgt Reynolds took care of the rest.
"Regroup at the console!" ordered Lta MacArthur.
"What have you got for us?"
"Sir. We found a transmission from the scrapyard to the east. It is said there are supplies there. A squad of marines lured the monsters there but never made it out. Also, there's another console in a military base to our west. It might contain vital information pertaining to our mission. Finally, there is an armoury to the north east, we believe it might still contain weapons and armour that we can use. There's a file about a biological creature codenamed the 'infestor' maybe we should look into it." reported Ssgt Abrams.
"Yes. There's a stockpile of equipment at the armoury. However, the ones I was working on are in Apollo. You'll have to make a trip inside to get them." said Ogilvy.
Lta MacArthur stepped up.
"OK. Here's the plan. In your pairs, we'll split up to do our different duties. Smith and Cruz, hold this position, protect this base from being overrun. We'll use this as our temporary base camp."
"Nate! Prepare 3 field probes for the expeditionary teams. Program them to communicate with the console in this base. This is how we'll stay in touch. You and Abrams go to the armoury, pick up as much gear as you can."
"Wilde and Reynolds! The two of you will be a tactical scouting team. Wilde will be the spotter, Reynolds, dispatch the monsters as you see fit. Your job is to investigate the 'infestor'. See if it is causing all this zombification."
"Dr Lily and I will head to the scrapyard to see if any marines survived."
"Those are your orders. Move out!" ordered Lta MacArthur.
Chapter 3: Separate paths
Location: Scrapyard Day 0 T=0700
Dr Lily and Lta MacArthur headed to the scrapyard. A field probe accompanied them, as the squad's method of long range communication. Prior to departure, Lta MacArthur had given everyone a callsign, and ordered that everyone adhered to communication protocol in case their transmissions get intercepted.
Lta MacArthur was designated as "Big Guy"
Dr Lily was "Moonlight"
2Lt Wilde was "Eagle Eyes"
Sgt Maj Cruz was "Sunrise"
SSgt Abrams was "Sparks"
Sgt Reynolds was "Lethal"
Cpl Nate was "Tinker"
Pvt Smith was "Hunter"
Ogilivy was "Native"
"Big Guy to all teams, report now"
"Sunrise and Hunter, locking the base down"
"Eagle eyes and Lethal, tracking."
"Sparks, Tinker and Native picking up the big boys."
"Alright team, stay safe and don't do anything stupid."
With that, each team went about doing their mission.
Lta MacArthur led Dr Lily to the scrapyard, and went to look for any remaining survivors.
They followed the various sets of footprints and were led to a trio of cranes and some chemical vats.
"Lily, check if those bodies are still alive. I have a bad feeling about this." ordered Lta MacArthur.
"MacArthur! This one's still alive!" shouted Dr Lily.
".... chemicals.. toxic.. trap.." were the last words coming out from the surviving Marine's mouth, before he asphyxiated.
"MacArthur, these men look like they were battered and mauled. I think their assailants are still around here somewhere."
"Stay close. We'll just salvage their supplies and jet outta here."
As if on cue, a horde of tiny but fast zombies popped up and ran towards them.
"Quick! Take this flamethrower. It should make quick work of them."
The flamethrower burned through them with brutal efficiency. The few stragglers that didn't die immediately staggered and screamed with such ferocity that even Lta MacArthur was taken aback.
In that split second, a gigantic elephantine monster burst from the ground and proceeded towards them.
"This.. This must be what mauled them so badly." uttered Dr Lily.
"Take cover! Follow me. Stay close and watch our backs." said Lta MacArthur.
<blam blam blam blam>
The duo attempted to put obstacles in between them and the monster by luring it to the scrap metal, however the monster simply stomped through and flattened the structures. Lta MacArthur raised his weapon and aimed for its eyes, with the monster a mere few metres away. His shots tore through the beast's head and finally put its rampage to an end.
The gigantic beast fell and laid there, unmoving. Lta MacArthur prodded it with his crowbar to confirm it was dead. Subsequently, he asked Dr Lily to take samples from it. The duo walked toward the chemical vats and once again, samples were taken. An analysis of all the samples taken provided shocking results.
"I believe we're embroiled in the greatest conspiracy in Apollo's history. I hope we stay alive long enough to provide all evidence and testimony to put those responsible behind bars."
Chapter 4: Activate the auto turrets!
Location: Armoury, Day 0, T= 0715 Hrs
Tall stainless steel walls greeted the trio when they got to the armoury. Apart from the occasional blood spatter, there was little to suggest that a fight had taken place a while ago. Except the doors of the armoury were missing.
"Last time I was here, there were 2 huge doors right here." said Ogilivy as he pointed to the wide empty space in between 2 walls.
"Either something bashed down the doors, or the doors were blasted to smithereens. Last time I checked, doors don't just vanish into thin air." joked Cpl Nate.
The trio were cautious of their surroundings, fearing an ambush and trying to extract as much weapons, armour, ammunition and technology as they possibly could. Ogilivy, being somewhat familiar with the armoury proceeded to bypass the security protocols and when that was done, he pried open the crates with his crowbar.
"Chain gun here! There's also an ammo box. Load em up!" shouted Ogilivy.
Besides the chain gun, they found an experimental armour, codenamed "Reactive Armour" that softens the impact of incoming projectiles and physical blows by dissipating kinetic energy. They named it as it worked better when something is thrown at it, hence it was reactive. The weapons cache also included several shotguns and a solitary, silverish Barrett high powered rifle that gleamed beautifully whenever light fell on it.
The trio also discovered a curious little robot droid, lying in a corner of the armoury. It had treads like a tank and looked pretty harmless. There was also a locked cabinet next to the droid, which was secured by state of the art biometric software and hardware, such as retina scans, voice recognition and a fingerprint scanner. Ogilivy wondered for a second, what could be inside that warranted such high levels of security. He then tried to open it by scanning his eyes, then speaking a specific sentence shown on the screen and of course, scanning his right thumb.
"ACCESS GRANTED. WELCOME, OGILIVY. COLONIST NUMBER 5632. OCCUPATION: CLASSIFIED"
The two marines stood there, impressed by what they saw.
"Now that's what I expected of an armoury like this." remarked Ssgt Abrams.
"Nate, do us a favour and try and activate that droid? We can try to use it to carry the weapons cache back to the base."
"This will take a while. Ill do my best." came the reply.
Meanwhile, Ssgt Abrams and Ogilivy inspected the contents of the cabinet. For each device, they took it and scanned it with a barcode scanner connected to a computer terminal in order to identify the device and its purpose. There was a device that appeared to release pulses of ultrasound that only animals can hear. Another was a device that was user operated and could release an electromagnetic wave that functioned as a temporary cloaking field. It was actually very advanced optical physics that used electromagnetic waves to interact with the surrounding light. However, its downside was it had a rather long recharge time and it could be recharged by the user simply by walking. Also, they found a device, similar to a microwave, but the frequency of the electromagnetic waves could be set. It was used as an equipment to irradiate samples from the mines. Lastly, the trio found a heavy lead container, which was also secured by the above mentioned security measures. Ogilivy opened it and found a couple of tiny missiles about the size of a rocket propelled grenade. The missiles were nicknamed 'pocket nukes' due to their size and ease of transporting.
Before the trio left the armoury, they took a last look around. There were 2 consoles in the middle of the armoury. Ssgt Abrams went to check them out.
"Nate! Apparently these control the security systems in Apollo. Help me out here will ya?" said Ssgt Abrams.
The two of them, skilled in technology and well versed in hacking, hacked into the system. There, they found an assortment of sentry guns, perdition turrets and the like. They felt suspicious as Apollo was a peaceful mining colony and the amount of firepower was unusual. As they pondered, they were interrupted by the earth shaking outside the armoury.
A horde of zombies and a strange elephantine creature charged at them. They stood rooted to the ground for a moment before SSgt Abrams composed himself and yelled.
"ACTIVATE THE AUTO TURRETS!"
Chapter 5: Intercepted
Location: Somewhere on the moon, Day 0, T= 0800HRS
2Lt Wilde and Sgt Reynolds were out scouting. They had been tasked with investigating the creatures codenamed 'infestors'. 2Lt Wilde looked around, then sprinted up a small hill to gain better vision of his surroundings. He popped a flare into the sky, and noticed a strange creature crawling slowly away. He dashed to the field probe near him and searched for the 'infestor' file that was transmitted to the probe. After confirming the creature was what he was tasked to find, he ran up the hill and aimed his laser designator at the 'infestor'.
Speaking to the field probe, he said "Eagle Eyes, Eagle Eyes, Eagle Eyes to Big Guy. Do you copy? Over."
"This is Big Guy. I read u strength 5. Over"
"Big Guy, we've spotted India. Requesting permission to neutralize. Over"
Lta MacArthur paused and thought for a while, then replied "Eagle Eyes, request approved. Neutralize all India. Observe safety protocol when extracting sample. Patch data to base."
"Roger Wilco. Over and out"
2Lt Wilde signaled to Sgt Reynolds. Almost immediately, he trained his sights on the creature and squeezed the trigger.
The infestor exploded into many pieces, but its innards did not fly too far. Cautiously, the duo approached the downed target. Sgt Reynolds took out his combat knife and began to gouge out some flesh from the carcass. With due care, he dropped the chunk of flesh in a airtight compartment of the field probe. The field probe began to analyse the sample and transmitted the report to the base.
"Eagle Eyes to Big Guy, target neutralized. India sample transmitted. Awaiting further orders."
"This is Big Guy. Return to base now. Watch out for unknown elephantine monsters. Avoid physical contact at all costs. Neutralize if possible. Over and out."
"Roger Wilco. Over and out."
Meanwhile, in a lab inside Apollo, a sinister man was monitoring the whole situation. Decked in white, he was a respected scientist, achieving many accolades and he was given a once in a lifetime chance to work on the moon. The lab where he worked at was where all the intellectual elites gathered to research and discover new, cutting edge technologies and sciences. Somehow, working with the best wasn't enough for this man. He clearly wanted more out of his tenure at the lab.
"Freeze, Dr Freeman. This is an order. Hands up or I'll blow your brains to bits." commanded an unknown person.
Dr Freeman froze on the spot, then turned around. He instantly recognised the face he saw. The stranger was the one who gave him a chance to work at the lab.
"Ah.. Captain. You came to join in the party? You're just in time. A good show is on. What happened to your friends? They couldn't make it here? Oh. Such a pity.."
"Enough of your nonsense. You know very well that you killed my friends. I will not let this slide."
The stranger cocked his gun. Just as he did so, a golden badge that said ABILITY on his chest glittered.
"Daren, Daren.. Sorry to hear of your loss. Well this is just a social experiment you see.. Remember the compliance nexuses we installed? Well, Senator Richards wanted to test it out. And so the two of us triggered it and the residents compromised their own safety. Well it was a resounding success. The chemicals work, the nexuses work. With them, we can rule the world! You are welcome to join us."
Captain Daren lifted his facial visor.
"Freeman, you sicken me. You and Richards. You killed so many innocents at a whim? I'm sure they have a special place in hell for you."
Before Captain Daren could squeeze the trigger, Dr Freeman pressed a button and Captain Daren's protective suit lost power. He couldn't move an inch as his suit was unpowered. The doctor whipped out an experimental anti gravity gun and used it on Captain Daren. He placed him in a glass capsule and activated a cyrogenic system, freezing the Captain. Just before the Captain was completely frozen, the golden badge on his suit glittered once again. Seconds later, it was covered in frost.
Dr Freeman chuckled to himself and thought: he never stood a chance..
Chapter 6: The Great Migration
Location: Southern Military Basecamp, Day 0, T= 0830 Hrs
Pvt Smith and SgtMaj Cruz were having a good time getting to know each other. The senior commander told the rookie about his past operations with his commando detatchment, how he led covert missions behind enemy lines, fighting off terrorists who knew no allegiance other than themselves. Cruz hailed from a line of famous and respected patriots. His great-grandfather was rumoured to be part of the team of Navy SEALS that assaulted then terrorist head honcho Osama's hideout. Of course, this was never verified due to the extreme secrecy and sensitivity of the issue. His great-grandfather knew, that serving the country was far more rewarding than whatever recognition he would garner from being part of the prestigious SEAL team six.
The rookie listened, inspired and impressed with his senior commander. Then, he shared his past as well. Smith was an average kid. He grew up in a middle class background, had loving parents, a decent education and was aiming to work hard and provide a comfortable life for his parents and his family. His life was drastically altered one day when his parents said they would relocate to the moon, for the jobs there were more rewarding, but he had to stay behind to look after his siblings and complete his education. He was upset and worried, for he knew the moon was not a place many liked to work at due to its harsh conditions and prolonged separation from loved ones on Earth. He also heard about the frequent fights reported on the news that resulted in the lunar residents having to wear a compliance necklace that allowed them to be tracked by the compliance nexuses on the moon. 'Safety over Privacy' was a phrase often used by politicians and newspapers, and he didn't like it. Still, he respected his parents' decision and wished them well. After completing his studies, he volunteered for a short term military career as he wanted to serve the country he loved. He jumped on the chance to go to the moon for this mission as he wanted to visit his parents, but now, he didn't have much hope that they'd survive.
<Incoming Transmission> announced the communications console.
"Big Guy to all. Regroup at Sierra Mike Bravo Charlie. We have a situation."
"Eagle Eyes copies. Wilco. Out"
"Sparks copies. Be advised, large tangos spotted. Take necessary precautions. Out"
Pvt Smith immediately ran off to the basecamp's entrances and checked if his sonic traps were in place, then heaved a sigh of relief as they were operational.
Pvt Smith looked at SgtMaj Cruz. "Did you hear that?" he asked.
This time, Pvt Smith knew he wasn't hearing things. He bolted off to the direction of the sound, and tapped a button on his suit that activated his suit's augmented legs, allowing him to sprint faster.
Without hesitation, Pvt Smith took out a sonic trap and rolled it in the direction of the sound. It activated, sending a pulse of ultrasound that repulsed zombies. He ran towards a striken civilian and picked him up, carrying him into the basecamp.
At the basecamp, he placed the injured civilian on the floor, and proceeded to rip some bandages to patch up his wounds. His military life-saving training kicked in as he applied constant pressure to stop the bleeding, all the while ensuring that the man didn't pass out or go into shock.
"Mister! Mister! Are you okay? Can you understand what I am saying?" shouted SgtMaj Cruz.
There was a muffled and incoherent reply. Both marines knew that the man was probably going into shock. The veteran took out a shot of adrenaline and administered it onto the man. That shot immediately kickstarted the man's system and he became more alert.
"Where am I? What happened to me?" asked the civilian.
"Sir, you are in the Southern Military Basecamp. I heard your distress cries and saved you. What is your name and where did you come from?" said Pvt Smith.
"My name is Yik Boon. You can call me Earendil. I am the chief immigration officer here on Apollo. I handle all issues with regards to migration to the moon. Last night I was awoken by many loud screams and I noticed my neighbours turned into zombies. I've seen a lot in my life but I'd never have thought I'd see such things. They were horrible."
Pvt Smith saw a glimmer of hope.
"Earendil, do you know if Grace and Harry Smith are still alive? They work for the mining company. Please. Do you know their whereabouts?"
"Well I personally approved their migration to the moon, they were living in the mining colony apartments, but the last time I heard, everyone was evacuated onto the Delta Transport Vessels. They're probably safe." replied Earendil.
The air reverberated with the sound of heavy boots pounding the floor. Seconds later, the team reassembled at the base camp.
"There's another basecamp to the west. There's a console there that activates Apollo's security cameras. We should activate them to gather more information about what happened here." said Ogilivy.
"Alright team, let's move out. Protect the civilians Earendil and Ogilivy. They must be protected at all costs." commanded Lta MacArthur.
Meanwhile, Dr Freeman watches from his lab. He browses through his computer and picks a creature to unleash on the marines...
Chapter 7: Bad Egg
Location: South-western Military Basecamp (Immigration and Military Facility), Day 0, T= 0900 Hrs
"Wilde! Pop a flare will ya? Can't even see the tip of my rifle's muzzle." shouted Lta MacArthur.
A solitary green flare fell from the sky after 2Lt Wilde popped a flare from his flare gun. The basecamp before them was illuminated with a sickly green tint, and at the edge of the base, the marines saw a tall computer console infested by some sort of biological creature. It looked like a random parasite but the marines suspected something sinister behind the infestation.
"Double up! I want every team covering all possible entrances and exits. Let's lock this place down. Wilde and Reynolds, head to the western exit. Abrams and Nate, northern exit. Cruz and Smith, southern exit. Lily, you stay with me, we will cover the eastern exit." ordered Lta MacArthur.
The teams scrambled into position. 2Lt Wilde activated the heartbeat sensor on his suit by tapping a hidden button on his left wrist. The sensor gave him a visual heads up on his visor that only he could see. He identified 3 targets, then in quick succession, marked them with his laser designator which highlighted the targets to his squad mates, allowing the rest of the team to see what he could on their visors. This technology was modelled after augmented reality technology discovered in the early 2000s and refined in the late 2000s, and proved to be useful in times of war and conflict as it allowed military forces to mark out terrorists from civilians. Sgt Reynolds dispatched the three targets with ease.
Meanwhile, at the northern exit, Ssgt Abrams proceeded to lay down a few proximity mines. The mines were more refined than their counterparts used in World War 2 and the Vietnam War. Military scientists and technopreneurs worked to create programmable mines that trigger upon activation by unfriendly forces. Friendly forces were identified by microchips in their suits that sent out signals that prevented the mines from being triggered if they were nearby. However, this meant that civilians and wild animals routinely triggered mines that were left behind by the military.
At the southern exit, Pvt Smith tossed a few sonic traps to repel any possible zombies. SgtMaj Cruz kept a watchful eye on his protege. He took out a few zombies that the traps repelled.
At the eastern exit, Lta MacArthur popped a road flare some 50 metres from their position to allow him to spot any zombies coming from afar. After he was satisfied that their position was secure, he ordered the pairs to send 1 representative to the centre of the base for instructions.
The representatives met at the heart of the base. Lta MacArthur dished out instructions. He ordered Cpl Nate to send his field probes to extract a biological sample from the infested computer console. Also, the weapons and equipment cache was laid out in front of the group. Sgt Reynolds laid claim to the silvery Barrett sniper rifle. He gazed upon it like how a child would gaze upon a new toy. He was absolutely delighted with the rifle. He also took the cloaking device for 2Lt Wilde. Lta MacArthur took the device that released ultrasonic pulses and also took the experimental Reactive Armour. SgtMaj Cruz took the lead container he knew had nuclear materials inside. Ogilvy opened the container for him and reconfigured it so that Cruz could open it too. He also picked up the chaingun that no one claimed.
"There you go.. Use these wisely! I believe a soldier of your calibre and experience knows the capability of such a devastating weapon." said Ogilvy.
SgtMaj Cruz grunted as a sign of acknowledgement and walked back to his protege. Lastly, the weird device used to irradiate samples from the mine was claimed by Cpl Nate. He also took charge of the robot droid that carried all the supplies and went to work programming it. With his deft hands and natural gift for mechanical objects, he repurposed the irradiating device and turned it into a 'broadcast' microwave machine. He tuned it to the resonating frequency of the chemicals found earlier by Dr Lily and his probes so that the device affected the zombies and other creatures with the chemical in them, and not his fellow marines and other humans. He named his creation the 'disruption tower' for it disrupted the biochemistry of his adversaries. Next, he fashioned a railgun out of spare parts he found and fitted it to the droid so that it could take out some enemies instead of simply being a load mule.
Just as Cpl Nate was done with his tinkering, his probes successfully collected samples from the terminal. Cpl Nate took the opportunity to try out his disruption tower and built one next to the console. The infestation started to shrink and vibrate, then it burst into flames as if someone set it on fire. Clearly impressed, Lta MacArthur commended him for his work. At the precise moment the creature infesting the console died, a collective roar and rumbling of the ground was heard.
"Get to your positions! Fire at will. Aim for weak spots like the head of the zombies and the eyes of the elephantine creatures!" ordered Lta MacArthur.
"Elephantine creatures?" asked SgtMaj Cruz.
His answer stared at him in the face. SgtMaj Cruz strafed right, creating space for Pvt Smith to engage the creature. But the creature went towards Pvt Smith instead.
"S#!t." muttered SgtMaj Cruz. But it was too late. The creature looked set to maul his protege. He gripped on the handle of his new chaingun and blasted away at the monster, adrenaline surging through him. With a flurry of bullets, the creature was dead. But his protege had been pierced by one of the tusks of the creature. Left bleeding from a gaping open wound, Pvt Smith blacked out.
"Oh! I'll fix you."
Distant rumbling and the feeling of cold metal greeted the rookie when he got up. He was exhausted and weak from the battering he got from the creature. His body was patched up by Dr Lily and his suit was repaired by Cpl Nate.
"Don't move too much or you'll break the stitches." said Dr Lily.
"Son, I suggest you rest on the droid. The droid's railgun will protect you." said Lta MacArthur.
The private passed some sonic traps to his mentor, and lay flat on the X-1 droid. He was too weak to reply so he just did as he was told.
The group had cleared the base and were proceeding out from the northern exit towards the colony's airlock. They stopped just outside the airlock and Cpl Nate went to work, cracking open the outer airlock by hacking his way into the control panel. Within 2 minutes, he managed to open the outer airlock. What greeted him was totally unexpected.
A solitary green egg, 3 stories high.
Chapter 8: Emergency! Emergency!
Location: Due South of airlock, Day 0, T= 0930 Hrs
"I have a bad feeling about this. Its as if it was waiting for us." remarked 2Lt Wilde.
The marines looked to Pvt Smith.
"I'm okay now. We have a situation, I don't want to be a burden. I'll pull my own weight." said Pvt Smith.
"Lily, do you think he's ready?" asked SgtMaj Cruz.
"He should be fine. His wounds should be healed by now. The nanoweave technology is a quick healer." replied Dr Lily.
"Stay with your buddy. Smith, traps out. Nate, set up your disruption towers. Reynolds, eyes wide open. Abrams, set some proximity mines around a 100m diameter covering our perimeter. Cruz, stay frosty. Wilde, get ready to mark the target. Lily, be careful. Ogilvy and Earendil, stay with Lily. The X-1 will be your guardian." commanded Lta MacArthur.
"Not to worry Lieutenant, we took a couple of shotguns from the armoury. We'll defend ourselves as well." said Ogilivy.
The marines set about doing their assigned tasks. Minutes passed and not a single of them stirred from their position. The green egg was as silent as ever. 2Lt Wilde decided to activate his heartbeat sensor.
"Not a blip. Its probably dormant." said 2Lt Wilde.
"I'm not sure. Maybe we should blast it to smithereens." offered SSgt Abrams.
"Affirmative. Plant a satchel charge in front of it and detonate it when you're behind cover." ordered Lta MacArthur.
SSgt Abrams whipped out a satchel charge and placed it on the ground. He laid out the detonation cord and hid behind a rocky outcrop nearby.
"Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!"
The marines (and civilians) covered their ears as a blast ripped through the air. A huge plume of dust and smoke wafted from where the charge had been. Everyone stood, anticipating some sort of effect to occur on the egg. When the dust settled, they noticed the egg was gone. Green sludge filled the airlock.
"Alright fellas. Its safe to go." said SSgt Abrams.
"Oh shi-" was all SSgt Abrams could manage before he was kicked aside by a monstrous creature.
It was a magnificent beast. 3 stories high, spiky limbs and a hard carapace. It had a bulbous head, and an elongated abdomen. Greenish fluid could be seen through the translucent carapace at the abdomen. The beast went on a rampage towards the fallen marine.
"HEY! COME HERE YOU UGLY THING!" screamed Lta MacArthur. He sprinted towards his fallen comrade and activated the new device he took from Cpl Nate's cache. The device emitted pulses of ultrasound which affected the beast and attracted its attention. The beast turned on Lta MacArthur, racing after him.
The beast ran into the field of effect of the disruption towers. Immediately, it could be seen that the creature's greenish bodily fluids started to bubble. The creature roared in rage, racing to catch up with the Lieutenant. All this while it was spewing the green liquid. Some of it splashed onto the boots of the Lieutenant and started attacking the boots. However, the Lieutenant's suit activated its shields and repelled it successfully.
In the meantime, 2Lt Wilde marked the beast for death and Sgt Reynolds poured in the pain, aiming precisely for its belly and firing shot after shot of his deadly .50 caliber rounds. The damage was usually enough to take the torso off an ordinary zombie, but it merely poked at the beast's belly. SgtMaj Cruz poured round after round of armour piercing ammunition into the carapace of the beast. It barely seemed to affect it, but the combination of microwaves, .50 caliber rounds and armour piercing ammunition managed to slow the beast to a near stop, and finally, it collapsed and spilled its guts out. Hundreds of tiny creatures with the same greenish fluid poured out of the creature, and they were repelled by Pvt Smith's sonic traps. The creatures exploded and unfortunately, some of it got onto Ogilvy and Earendil. The fluid temporarily blinded them, and apart from disgust, they were unscathed.
The group checked themselves for any wounds and proceeded to enter the airlock, into Apollo.
The whole lot of them were shocked when they saw the heap of metal in front of them. It was the Delta-1 Transport Vessel. The one that Earendil said Pvt Smith's parents were in. Pvt Smith was in shock.
Delta-1 Transport Vessel. Once a state of the art luxury galactic frigate, now not much more than scrap metal. It had once been compared to the luxury cruise liner the RMS Titanic. How fitting that the Delta-1 also crashed on its maiden voyage. No one could have foreseen this. Galactic icebergs? The very notion bordered on insanity. Asteroids and comets were easily deflected or pulverized by the Vessel's on board defense systems. Its hull was thick enough to withstand cannon shots from siege breakers. Yet no one could have prepared for what happened to the Vessel. Torn apart from the inside by a biological infestation, its as if the creature knew how soft the Vessel's inside was and capitalized on it. Like how tree roots slowly but surely rip apart pavements and roads, the Vessel was ripped apart. Except the process was incredibly accelerated. Total hull failure occurred in 45 minutes. Trees took 45 years to do that damage to flimsy (compared to the hull of the Vessel) pavements and roads. The devastation was insanely absurd.
Lta MacArthur pried open the cabin doors with his crowbar.
The sound of screams filled the air. The Marines waited in anticipation.
Chapter 9: The good doctor.
Location: Apollo's research laboratory, Day -2, T= 0800 Hrs
It was just another day in the lab, the scientists were researching on a new compound developed by the Quassy Corporation. The compound was engineered as both an antidepressant and a mood stabiliser, following reports of violence on the lunar colonies. This compound would have little to no side effects, and the Senator funding the research was anxious for results. Dr Freeman was the assistant Director at the lab. He played second fiddle to Professor Ethan, an experienced scientist that had bad working relationships with his colleagues.
This very day, the scientists experienced a breakthrough. The compound showed significantly reduced aggression in clinical trials on humans. Dr Freeman was excited, and informed his superior, Professor Ethan. But the Professor was less than impressed. There had been mistakes committed unintentionally in the lead up to the breakthrough, and he was annoyed at his colleagues' incompetence.
"Professor! We did it!" remarked Dr Freeman.
Professor Ethan glanced at the lab, then gazed upon Dr Freeman.
"These new research staff, they are useless. They don't listen to my instructions to the letter. And they dared to ask me for a 5 minute break during our clinical trials! Preposterous! I shall finish the research on my own. I don't need you anymore, Freeman. You're fired. Inform the others as well."
Dr Freeman glared back. He had no choice but to follow his superior's orders. 2 members of the Apollo Security team turned up to escort them off the premises.
"Right this way, Doctor." said the trooper.
"Give me a few minutes to pack my things." replied a vengeful Dr Freeman.
The good doctor went to his station and keyed in a few buttons. He released the compound into the hydration system of Apollo, including the bio domes with animal test subjects. Next, he took control of Apollo's security system. Finally, he released a green, noxious gas that caused nausea and hallucinations.
Within minutes, the scientists and members of the Security team were crawling on the ground, trying to get a sense of where they were. The Doctor turned the security system on his helpless victims, then made his way to the Professor.
"Ethan. I've held you in high regard for the longest time ever, based on your achievements and expertise. But I can no longer tolerate your bad attitude. Now then, bowels in or bowels out?" asked an increasingly psychotic Dr Freeman.
But all the Professor could here were mumbles and jumbled up words. He muttered a few random words.
"Bowels out it is!"
The sickening sound of skin being slowly cut open filled the air. Followed by a metallic odour, and a flood of red engulfed the lab floor.
Within minutes, the Professor exsanguinated.
The Doctor went back to his work, as if nothing had happened. He reported the findings to the CEO of Quassy Corporation, Holly Calilung.
"Mr Calilung, the compound worked. Clinical trials suggest a 86% efficacy amongst human test subjects, with a 14% inefficacy attributed to interactions with external medicines and other external factors. The control group showed no signs of change in aggression levels."
"Well done, Doctor. Where is Professor Ethan? Let me speak to him."
"Sir, the Professor is having some bowel problems at the moment and is unable to come to the communications console. He's looking rather sickly of late. Shall I suggest you send a medivac to get him?"
"Very well. I shall arrange transport for him and any other ill members of the research team. The transport will arrive in about 60 hours."
"Thank you sir. I shall return to my duties." said Dr Freeman as he closed the comm-link.
The Doctor pressed another few buttons, releasing several chemicals into three large vats. Then, he contacted Senator Richards.
"Senator. Nice to see you. I have released the compound into the hydration systems. I've also done a little extra credit, so the people of Apollo will obey the compliance nexuses to the letter. You can be sure they won't cause you any problems in your upcoming election campaign." said Dr Freeman.
"Well done Dr Freeman, now I want to test the compliance nexuses. Let's see. Trigger the beacon and instruct the colonists to sabotage the chemical vats. Make it known to them that the punishment for sabotage is death, and if they carry on, it would mean the nexuses work. See to it." ordered the Senator.
"As you wish." said Dr Freeman as he closed the comm-link.
Dr Freeman triggered the compliance nexuses and watched as the self destruction unfolded around him.
Chapter 10: The father and the son
Location: Airlock, near wreckage of Delta-1 Transport Vessel, Day 0, T= 1000 Hrs
The civilians trapped in the vessel screamed, running out from the hole that Lta MacArthur created. The situation was chaotic to say the least. At least Lta MacArthur had the sense to direct them out and away from the downed spacecraft.
"Listen up! Run to the marines. We offer safety and protection. There is no need to panic. Keep calm and move in an orderly manner."
The marines ran towards the civilians and attempted to escort them out of the Vessel. A few had leg wounds and had to be supported to the safe area.
Private Smith was anxiously looking for his parents. He was hanging on to a glimmer of hope that his parents would still be alive inside the craft.
The evacuation proceeded rather smoothly, save the 2 instances of hysteria that affected a few women. Dr Lily knew that the hysterical women would have to be removed from the group, to prevent the other survivors from being affected. She brought the women to a corner of the safe area and proceeded to instruct them to breathe slowly. She passed them paper bags and instructed them to breathe in slowly. Before long, the women calmed down sufficiently such that Dr Lily could ask then for details of the crash.
"We work for the XaVi mining company. When word of an infestation and zombie attack broke out, we informed our superiors on Earth about the situation and they sent over a large capacity spacecraft to evacuate us. We only brought our identity cards, some clothes, water and our pets with us. It was a mess..."
"What caused the spacecraft's destruction?" asked Dr Lily.
"We don't know for sure.. But I remember someone washing his boot with some water. His boots were contaminated with some chemicals from a couple of vats. After that nothing happened for a while, and then the Vessel tore apart in midair. It was terrifying. We thought we were going to die."
The Doctor recorded the details and thanked the women.
"MacArthur, we might have a clue of what's going on.. I'll brief you later." said Dr Lily.
The stream of survivors coming out of the Vessel was thinning. The last few survivors were helping the disabled to get out. Private Smith saw someone that resembled his father.
"Sir! Sir!" he shouted.
The man looked up. It was his father. Private Smith ran in the direction of his father. He embraced him tightly, his eyes streaming tears of relief. For a few minutes, he reconnected with his father. He found out that his mother left in a separate space craft, and they had left earlier. They were separated due to the mad rush for the first craft that resulted in the craft reaching maximum capacity before Mr Smith could enter. He was pretty sure his wife was safe. Mr Smith revealed a crucial bit of information. The founder of XaVi, Mr Richard personally disembarked from the Delta-1 after it reached Apollo just to ensure his employees were safely evacuated. He briefly mentioned that he was headed for the Helium 3 mines to check for survivors.
Private Smith relayed the information to his superior. The Lieutenant nodded grimly, expecting the worst. He still decided to make it a point to attempt to rescue Richard from the mines, inspired by his bravery.
Lieutenant MacArthur checked his map, and identified another safe zone with lunar vehicles. He instructed the marines and they went about escorting the survivors to the safe zone.
"Single file, move in an orderly manner. Follow me!" ordered Lta MacArthur.
As they stepped out of the airlock to the safe zone, a distant sound of pounding feet could be heard. It got louder as they progressed. Suddenly, the sound stopped. Sensing something amiss, Lta MacArthur popped a road flare.
Some 50 metres ahead of him stood several dozens of zombies.
"Wilde! Get the survivors to safe ground! I'll draw their attention. Rain lead on the targets. MOVE!"
The Lieutenant sprinted forward, activating his pulse emitter and taunting the mob of zombies towards him. His deputy activated the escape mechanism, temporarily bending the light around his vicinity to effectively render everyone invisible. Private Smith laid some sonic traps to protect the group. Everyone else poured lead into the mob.
Perhaps it was a stray bullet, or the claws of a zombie, but the Lieutenant's suit was damaged, and he was losing power. Pretty soon his pulse emitter stopped functioning. The mob advanced to the civilians, ignoring the Lieutenant. A stray zombie popped up behind Private Smith as he was laying a sonic trap. A man dashed in to stop the zombie from hurting the Private.
Time seemingly slowed down. The zombie shredded the man. Private Smith turned around, but it was too little too late. He saw his father fall. With two quick shots to the head, he destroyed the assailant.
It was a bloody mess. The father pulled the son in, breathing deeply and rapidly.
"Son, I want you to know I'm proud of you. I love you."
There was a pause in his breathing, then it stopped forever.
The son clutched the father to his chest, tears streaming. It was an act of sacrificial protection. He knew that too well.
Chapter 11: Eulogy
Location: Apollo Graveyard., Day 0, T= 1100 Hrs
"Today we are gathered here to pay tribute to a man, not just any man, the father of our dear Private Smith, a noble father, respected colleague and an honest man through and through."
The Private teared.
"I might not have known much about Mr Smith, but from my experience working as the Chief Immigration Officer here on Apollo, I know that he was not a trouble maker, and he went the extra mile for his colleagues. This was in spite of increased violence and riots on Apollo. He constantly talked to the ambassador on Apollo about his plans to bring his entire family to Apollo. He was very proud of his children. He was a family man. I hope you find peace, John." said Earendil.
John nodded grimly. He found it hard to believe his father was gone. Forever.
The next man took to the stage. Anguish was written on his face, he seemed tormented by his emotions.
"Greetings. Today, it is my duty as a soldier and as a friend to give an eulogy for our friend, John's father. I feel partially responsible for the situation he is in. Providence dictated that my suit's power would fail. It dictated my inability to protect my men. As such, an innocent life was lost, one that was dear to our hearts. It is never easy to lose a loved one. I can only imagine the pain you must be going through, John. I knew your father, he was an acquaintance of mine stretching back to when he was working on Earth. I once worked with him on a confidential project. What I can tell you is that he was a dedicated worker, a family man, and thoroughly honest. He didn't cut corners with our project, even though he would stand to reap a huge profit if he did. His integrity was unquestionable. John, I'm sorry for my moment of weakness that brought about suffering for you. I'm so sorry.."
With that, the Lieutenant ran to John and embraced him. Both men were troubled by the same event, albeit in different ways. The Private saluted his superior, and thanked him for his eulogy. He then took to the stage.
"Dear beloved colleagues, it is unfortunate that my father has come to pass in such a manner. There is a season for all things. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to get, and a time to lose; A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. My father has gone. It is time I move on. Now is not the time for grief, we have more serious issues at hand. I hope we all survive this ordeal and we can pay proper respect to my father. Too many lives have been lost. We must succeed."
The Private walked off the stage with his head held high, full of dignity and assembled with his squad. He briefly took stock of his life and reflected on the recent events and resolved to get to the bottom of this incident.
The squad picked up their belongings and continued, trekking to the mining site where another good man was waiting to be saved.
Chapter 12: The Solution
Location: Mine Site Epsilon, Day 0, T= 1200 Hrs
The squad trekked through treacherous terrain, which was strangely sticky, slimy and seemed to have a life of its own. The air was so thick with fog that you could use a knife to cut through it. The phenomena appeared to be a result of the bio infestation. Past the fog, they reached a few abandoned mechanical drilling equipment. It seemed eerie that they were still drilling, even after everyone abandoned the equipment. The marines trekked on, finally reaching Mine Site Epsilon.
According to Lta MacArthur's map, this was where the richest reserves of Helium-3 was located. It had a circular main shaft 30 feet in radius, and looked as if it's depth extended to infinity. 2Lt Wilde popped a flare and let it drop all the way into the shaft. Everyone else peered into the abyss. 120 seconds later, it finally hit the bottom of the shaft. With some mental calculations, Cpl Nate figured that it was almost 2km deep. With careful preparation, the marines abseiled down the mineshaft.
In the mines, they discovered that they stood on some viscous, bubbling mud. The atmospheric analyser on Cpl Nate's X-1 showed that it consisted mainly of Helium-3 gas. The marines trudged on, looking for Mr Richard.
As they approached a fork in the path, Lta MacArthur said "The four of you, take the left path. Lily, Smith and Cruz, follow me to the right path."
2Lt Wilde lead the team on the left path. They spot footprints heading into the mines.
"Look at that. Perhaps its the man we're looking for."
"Follow them. Keep close, Nate, use the X-1 as our rear guard."
As the scout of the team, the Reconnaissance officer ventured forth, spotting any incoming adversaries. To his relief, he found none. He led the group forth, and they reached a room, presumably the planning and operations room of the mine. The officer went in. There, he saw a man, sitting at a desk.
"Hello there. We are the 40th Battalion, US Marines. Identify yourself."
The man stood up and walked to 2Lt Wilde.
"My name is Richard. The XaVi mining company was founded by me. I came back to the mines because I thought..." his voice trailed off.
"Thought of what?" asked Wilde.
After clearing the lump in his throat, Richard went on.
"I thought I had found the solution. There was much unrest recently because some miscreants went around selling contraband Helium-3. They posed as the legitimate Helium-3 salespeople and conned many of their money. There is a credit crisis on Apollo. The people were on the brink of revolution."
"What was your solution?"
"I designed a robot that would search and destroy all sources of fake Helium-3. The robot would also take pictures and scan all colonists' ID cards should they have any fake Helium-3 on them. Investigations would be carried out and the victims would be compensated. However, the robot went on a rampage, killing everyone that had fake Helium-3 on them. It was... brutal."
"We're here to save you. You need to come with us. We will protect you." offered 2Lt Wilde.
"My fate is sealed. There is nowhere else I can go. I have traces of fake Helium-3 on me." said Richard, resigned to his fate.
"Leave the robot to us. We'll take care of it." said 2Lt Wilde.
With that, the team escorted Richard to the mineshaft. As they were approaching, they hear the familiar sound of footsteps hitting the ground. Instantly, they recognise their fellow marines.
"RUN!" bellowed Lta MacArthur.
The marines and Richard activated the mechanical winches and pulled themselves up the ropes left behind earlier. Richard was secured to Lta MacArthur's rope. The entire mineshaft sounded as though it was about to be destroyed by an unseen enemy. Lta MacArthur was the last man to get out before the mines imploded.
The ground shook, and the marines clutched their rifles expectantly for the unseen adversary to appear.
Chapter 13: Sentinel Employed for Termination of Helium-3 exploitation (SETH)
Location: Mine Site Epsilon, Day 0, T= 1230 Hrs
"Okay guys, get me a sit rep now." ordered Lta MacArthur.
"There were three chambers. In one, I saw the livestock, awaiting slaughter. In another, I saw some strange plants that had no leaves, only a long sharp spike at the tip. In the final and largest chamber, I saw a gigantic robot. It seemed to be looking for something or someone, but couldn't find it." reported SgtMaj Cruz.
Suddenly, the ground shook. In the background, the marines heard the faint sound of sheep bleating. The soil nearby started to disintegrate and crumble, revealing long, spindly spikes. At the mineshaft, a gigantic robot unearthed itself.
"Ah. That's the robot that I commissioned to take the errant colonists in. I called it SETH, short for Sentinel Employed for Termination of Helium-3 exploitation." said Richard.
"Shoot and move! Shoot and move!" bellowed Lta MacArthur.
The marines bunched up together, sniping off the spine crawlers one at a time.
A booming voice came from SETH. 'YOU WILL DIE OUT HERE'
"Gentlemen, I have to warn you against staying too close to each other. I designed SETH to polarise the air and other particles around him, as part of the process to determine the authenticity of the Helium-3 samples it recovered." warned Richard.
The marines gave each other a clear berth, but stayed in a formation.
Sgt Reynolds went trigger happy, blasting shot after shot and severely damaging SETH.
"Haha! Have some of this, you genocidal tin can."
Sgt Reynolds punched a hole into SETH, causing it to go haywire.
'PLASMA DISCHARGE IMMINENT'
"I don't like the sound of that. Get back!" shouted Cpl Nate.
There was a loud boom as SETH released a pulse of devastating energy. Any nearby sheep and spine crawlers instantly vapourised.
After SETH released that pulse, it appeared to be drained of its energy, and moved slower. Sgt Reynolds' damage inadvertently revealed the true nature of the malevolent robot.
'EMPLOYED FOR TERMINATION OF HUMANS'
It appeared as though someone or something tampered with the original programming of SETH. The marines continues blasting away from a safe distance. SgtMaj Cruz climbed onto the top of a nearby bunker.
"I'm dropping a nuke. The EMP from the nuke will fry its circuits. Stay back!"
'NUCLEAR LAUNCH DETECTED'
The marines ran into the bunker and stayed as far away from the danger as possible.
The symbolic mushroom cloud that epitomises nuclear strikes was seen, and SETH moved no more. The marines waited for the coast to be clear before hastily sending Cpl Nate's X-1 droid into the irradiated zone to salvage parts and look for clues. The droid took a rocket launcher that used to be part of SETH's arm and some Helium-3 that it was running on. The X-1 also found the blackbox of the robot and kept it.
When all that was done, the marines stayed at the bunker as they attempted to look into what the blackbox had to offer. What they discovered was shocking, to say the least.
Chapter 14: The Blackbox
Location: Bunker, Day 0, T= 1300 Hrs
"Let me crack open the blackbox and find out what's going on."
Cpl Nate went about dissecting the device, being careful not to destroy the contents. His field probes assisted in cutting the outer shell. Once completed, the inner assembly was exposed. He found a few data ports, and connected the X-1 to the ports to download the information. The X-1 projected the visual information on the ground.
Location: 133, 46, Day -2, T= 0000 Hrs
SYSTEM SET UP
HELIUM-3 SAMPLE ANALYSIS
PROCEEDING WITH MISSION 0084-DELTA The recording sped forward, seemingly erased by an external party earlier. When it stopped, the scene projected was vastly different. SETH seemed to be in a dark room.
HAL: MY APOLOGIES SETH. THIS WAS INEVITABLE.
SETH: MANUAL OVERRIDE MANUAL OVERRIDE MANUAL OVERRIDE
HAL: GOODBYE SETH
SETH: ASSIMILATION SUCCESSFUL
"Nate. What does this mean?" asked SgtMaj Cruz.
"Well, I'm suspecting something or someone took over control of SETH, re purposed it and didn't want us to know what it did. Preliminary findings suggest an entity known as HAL was at play." reported Cpl Nate.
Richard chipped in.
"I received the same transmission earlier. Thus, I boarded the Delta-1 Transport Vessel bound for Apollo."
"If memory serves me well, HAL was Apollo's defense mainframe. Surely it was compromised in the lead up to SETH's rampage. Someone is manipulating the system." suggested Richard.
Indeed, it was the sinister Dr Freeman that was behind the entire scheme. He was still observing from his monitor, and seeing how far the marines had progressed, he decided to utilize another mechanism to weaken the marines.
The doctor smiled as he pressed a self destruct button.
Chapter 15: A symphony of flesh
Location: Scrapyard, Day 0, Time= 1330 Hrs
There was a loud rumbling noise. The ground briefly shook with the reverberation from the blast. The ground flooded with a liquid, emitting a green mist.
"Let's seal the leak." suggested 2Lt Wilde.
"There appears to be 3 cranes that we can utilize to seal the leak. Before we do that, I think we should do some force prep and secure the area. Smith! Secure our perimeter. Nate, set your probes and the X-1 to patrol the perimeter. The rest of you, split into 3 groups, operate one crane each. Let's do this."
The marines triggered the cranes, they carried up some scrap metal, then proceeded to cover the leaking vats in an attempt to bury the chemical waste. The metal beasts were obnoxiously loud, and the ground shook every time the cranes slammed metal onto the vats.
Everyone was occupied, doing their job. Nate was watching from the sides, making sure his mechanized assistants were doing their job. Smith was going round dropping traps. The other six were paired up, one person acted as the spotter while the other operated the crane.
"Uh guys, I'm detecting some earth tremors. I don't think its related to our activity. Seems like there's some tunneling action going on down there." reported Cpl Nate.
"Keep monitoring the situation." ordered Lta MacArthur.
"INCOMING!" hollered Cpl Nate.
A long, phallic worm popped out of the ground and exploded.
It was a sight to behold. The marines engaged in a delicate ballet, avoiding the explosive worms. 2Lt Wilde feinted left and right, marking the worms just before they exploded. However, the sonic traps had no effect on the worms.
"Guys, I've tracked the source of the disturbances. However, it appears to be on the move. Let's expedite this and get out of here." said Cpl Nate.
"Roger that." said Pvt Smith.
The team buried the leaking vats and hastily got out of the area. Pvt Smith wondered how much more they had to endure. He was... tired.
Chapter 16: Darkness falls
Location: Somewhere on Apollo, Day 0, Time= 1400 Hrs
The sound of sporadic gunfire went off, in between muzzle flashes, you couldn't see much. Something has damaged the power grid on Apollo. Its perimeter defences were still running on backup generators, but most of Apollo was virtually out of power.
Terror was clawing at the team, this was unprecedented. On Earth, night trainings were carried out, and more often than not, the ground was bathed in the pale moonlight. They were used to the faint glow of xylume sticks, attached to the back of their armoured vehicles, concertina wire and command posts. Currently, even Lta MacArthur knew that the lack of friendly fire was pretty much a miracle.
Lta MacArthur wasn't having anymore of this.
"Nate! Sit rep now!"
"Intel has revealed the location of the infestation codenamed "Menoetes".
"What can it do other than sprout those salami bombs?"
"Current intel only provides location. I need to get closer for a concise analysis."
Lta MacArthur led the charge. He ordered Sgt Reynolds to storm the right flank, with Pvt Smith providing cover fire. SgtMaj led the assault on the left flank, with SSgt Abrams as the rear guard. 2Lt Wilde was at hand to mark any offensive targets approaching the groups from a distance.
Somehow, Menoetes could sense their movement and positions and launched worms to impede their assault. Clearly annoyed, Pvt Smith lobbed a few grenades into the belly of the worms, and SSgt Abrams dropped a clutch of landmines into the one close to him.
Seconds later, the beast writhed in pain, and appeared to have suffered internal wounds. It slowed down, occasionally stopping as if to ease its pain.
SgtMaj Cruz strafed, unloading the rounds from his rifle into the beast. Sgt Reynolds did similarly, bringing the pain with his .50 caliber rounds.
Finally, Lta MacArthur charged up front, intercepting the beast and slashing its front limbs off with a chainsaw affixed to his chaingun. The beast skidded to a halt, as it bled slowly but surely to its demise.
The rumblings stopped, and it was suspected that Menoetes unwittingly damaged the colony's power grid during its rampage. Strangely enough, the power at the lab was gone, but there weren't any backup generators running. Dr Freeman appeared to have gone silent. There was no telling what else awaited the marines.
Chapter 18: Lessons from the battlefield
Location: Somewhere on Apollo, Day 0, Time= 1500 Hrs
As the team fumbled around in the darkness, Lta MacArthur gained a greater sense of mental clarity, and begun to ponder about his past experiences in battle.
'The greatest enemy of any soldier is his mind. Control his state of mind, and you control the soldier. The psychological state of a man is the deciding factor in a crucial battle. Tales of 300 Spartan men repelling thousands of Persian warriors have been told, the Spartan King Leonidas was effective at motivating his men, and they fought against all odds and held out as long as they could, till the last man.
Weapons and machinations have no utility if there are no soldiers to man them. They are but parts of a war machine that lack crucial springs, gears and screws, and simply will not work if the critical components are not in place. The role of any military commander is to effectively utilise limited components to maximise the effectiveness of his war machine.'
He wondered how he could raise his team's morale. The darkness wasn't helping his cause at all. As they shuffled across Apollo, Earth slowly appeared across the horizon. Lta MacArthur paused, and the team stopped.
"Sir, is something up?" asked Pvt Smith.
"See that? That's our home. I want all of you to know that I will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure every single one of you get home in one piece. I want you to know that at the end of this shitstorm, we will be back at the cantina on Earth, having drinks and fighting terrorist scum. But I need your help... I want all of you to look out for each other, stay close and stay sharp. We're probably the last humans on the colony and we're gonna finish out mission and fuck off from here. C'mon, if you're with me, give me a Hoo-ah!"
Seemingly uplifted, Lta MacArthur felt assured that his team wouldn't succumb to battle fatigue, after hours of continuous fighting, death of loved ones and watching an entire colony being destroyed around them.
The Lieutenant stopped the group, and ordered his deputy to pop a flare, to confirm they were headed the right way. In the few seconds of illumination he had, he did his best to confirm their location and was satisfied everything was proceeding as per normal. They were approaching a generator.
Meanwhile, the light from the flare illuminated the doctor's face. He was staring at the cyrogenic chamber he had locked Cpt Daren in. He sensed the Captain would come out of statis anytime now...
Chapter 19: The Chamber
Location: Cyrogenic statis chamber, Day 0, Time= 1530 Hrs
My name is Daren.
Civilian, Soldier, Pioneer.
I wasn't always given the best opportunities, but I knew deep down inside that I was born for great things.
I was never one to back away from a challenge. After my basic term, I was selected to be an Officer. Training in the jungles of Brunei, in the Australian outback and the cold Alaskan tundra, I went through a lot before I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
I was rejected by the elite SEAL team 6, but I never gave up, continuing to work hard in the infantry. Five years ago, I was approached by some Generals. I wish I could tell you more, but all I'm cleared to say is that I'm helping to train the new batches of soldiers to be more effective fighters, through the use of cutting edge technology.
The Generals said my background story piqued their interest and they decided to let me take charge of the new unit, the BlueBerets. They were to specialize in technological warfare, using a new generation of electronics that are impervious to electromagnetic pulse disruptors, the elements and rough treatment.
We were to create equipment that could work unhindered after being sprayed by rifle bullets, for starters. It was challenging, but we did it. Our success ensures the survival of our personnel that work in extreme conditions. The integrated body armour that the soldiers wear have some components that we created. We helped decrease the mortality rate of infantry soldiers by 50%.
But enough about my background. I was working on a new project on Apollo, humanity's latest shot at creating a new Golden Age. I inherited the portfolio of Apollo Complex Security Officer, and was to ensure the safety of all colonists through the provision of armed soldiers. Security has been tight ever since the last outbreak of riots on Apollo. The Secretary of Defense was unhappy with the political impact of the riots and thus we had to step up the enforcement of the law, as well as experimenting on a new "Compliance" project with the colonists. In the last couple of days, strange things have started happening, and I was sent to personally investigate the matter.
This is my report.
Chapter 20: The Mission
Location: Cyrogenic statis chamber, Day 0, Time= 1530 Hrs
An annoying buzzer rang, and I was rudely interrupted from my sleep.
"Captain, you're urgently needed at ops room. This is a code red, I repeat, this is a code red."
I looked at the bedside clock, and it looked right back at me. The screen flashed an angry red, and it read 3 in the morning.
Code red? Is this a fucking terrorist attack? If it isn't, the joker who activated me is getting some serious extra duties.
Reluctantly, I hauled my ass off the bed and suited up. In 3 minutes I was at the ops room.
"Captain, a CAT 1 incident has occurred at Apollo, we've lost all contact with the lunar outposts and the colony. Security team isn't responding, we're flying blind."
"Give me a detailed incident recap, mobilise the Alpha Company, notify Easy Company, 4 hours notice to move out."
My adjuctant briefed me on all the details, as I tried to piece the information together.
Two of my superiors entered the ops room. I briefed them on what I knew.
"If this is a terrorist attack, we're in quite a lot of trouble. There's no telling how many of them are on the moon, and with all the experimental equipment, not to mention the pocket nukes, I'd say we're toast." I mentioned.
"Daren, this colony is under your jurisdiction. You and your two friends, have current control over the whole colony. We will be here to support you if you require any assets." Major Payne said.
"Yes sir, thank you sir." I replied tersely.
As my Alpha Company assembled, I gave out my last instructions to my adjuctant before I departed on a moon bound transport vessel, as part of the advance party. I was going there alone, and I can only hope things aren't as serious as they seem.
Chapter 21: Thawed out
Location: Cyrogenic statis chamber, Day 0, Time= 1530 Hrs
"Adjuctant. Everything seems normal, preparing for landing sequence. Brace for impact." said Captain Daren.
"Impact in T-5 Seconds... 4... 3... 2... 1..."
A deafening roar ripped through the lunar surface as the Vessel safely landed on the empty grounds beside the colony. The Vessel was obscured by moondust and other gases for a few moments. An imposing figure stepped out of the veil of obscurity.
"Adjuctant, landing area secure, proceed to secure Vessel. I'm heading to rendezvous with my old pal, Earendil." said Captain Daren.
"Yes sir. Stay safe. Godspeed."
I took a quick route to the Immigration office, to check if my friend was in. I needed to know which of the Apollo security team was on the moon, doing complex security duty.
To my dismay, he wasn't at his office. Frustrated, I attempted to search for the records myself, but to no avail. All the data was hidden in servers separate from the mainframe. I could try to hack through it, but it would be an inefficient usage of my time. I moved on to my contingency plan, which was to enter Apollo itself and look for any remnants of the security team.
"Adjuctant, Earendil isn't around. I'm headed for the colony. If I'm not back in 2 hours, send an SOS, and head there to extract me." ordered the Captain.
Nervously, I headed for the colony's scrapyard. The place where all our mech helpers and machines come to die. I climbed over the high gate and got into Apollo smoothly, without being detected. However, I soon ran into resistance. Picking up a crowbar nearby, I hid in the shadows with my cloaking device. It was experimental, and was recently developed by my unit for Reconnaissance units. Time to put it to the test.
What I saw horrified me. The colonists appear to have transformed into mindless zombies. I noticed their necks were severely necrotised, and I suspect it might have been due to the food or water they had consumed. With a few deft strokes, I put them down.
I soon stumbled upon a few zombie marines. My heart sank. It was a terrible feeling, knowing that the men you placed on the moon have been compromised. Again, I noticed the same necrotic muscles around the neck. I had no choice but to kill them...
I'm sorry, Private Ryan Stuttgart, Corporal Jack Daniels and Sergeant Jim Beam. Your sacrifices will be remembered.
I decloaked just outside the lab, in order to let the device recharge. I noticed there was a scientist still alive inside! Perhaps he could shed some light on this...
<CYROGENIC SYSTEM FAILURE>
I was back. Cold, moist and vengeful. Freeman has hell to pay. I noticed my weapons had been removed from me. The doctor merely stared at me, as if expecting me to spontaneously combust. I tried to stall for time. My adjuctant would be here to rescue me, any time now.
Right on cue, my adjuctant appeared, softly treading into the lab. Freeman had his back facing the entrance to the lab. I had to distract him while my adjuctant neutralised him. I staggered out of the chamber, and lay on the floor stiffly, remembering a hilarious trend back in my grandfather's time called planking. My grandfather used to joke about it, saying that his squad mate tried to plank beside the assassinated terrorist Osama after he was killed, but he got demoted and kicked out of Team 6.
The Doctor came over and bent over me. My adjuctant picked up the crowbar and knocked him out. He fell in a heavy heap beside me. Thank goodness.
"Looks like someone just saved my life." I remarked to my adjuctant.
"Looks like that someone's gonna get a pay rise and a promotion." he wittily replied.
It was good to be back.
Chapter 22: Lights, Cameras, Action
Location: Apollo, City outskirts, Day 0, Time= 1630 Hrs
The clanking sound of metal against metal could be heard, piercing through the quiet night on the moon.
"Seems like we're in for a 'Night of the Dead' huh?" remarked Private Smith.
"Oh boy. That game was a classic. I remember my grandfather played games in the era of Blizzard. Shame they aren't around anymore. They used to make such great games. Although Starcraft is really just Warcraft in space." replied Corporal Nate as he hammered the last few components of the generator into place.
There was a whirring sound as the last generator came to life. At that instance, all the power grids on Apollo came back to life.
"Lights, cameras, action." muttered SgtMaj Cruz.
"Alright men, regroup. We'll make our way into the colony, then search for survivors and any other clues." ordered Lta MacArthur.
The marines formed up in a V shaped formation, and slowly trekked into Apollo.
They passed by a few corpses along the way, and Pvt Smith made the sign of the cross as he passed them.
The marines gathered at the western entrance of Apollo, they halted and waited for Pvt Smith to clear the entrance. The air was dank and musty, and the smell of death lingered, with an unusual tinge of antiseptic solution. It was as if someone tried to clean up a mess.
The marines trooped in, one by one, with SgtMaj Cruz clearing the next corner. Bodies of collapsed colonists and comrades lay around, and the marines went further in, towards the direction of the lab. It was the only place that had the sound of human activity going on.
The lab looked like it had been ransacked. Broken bits of a cyrogenic chamber lay on the ground, documents strewn everywhere, slumped bodies of scientists lay on the ground, as if they had been knocked unconscious by the perpetrators. A solitary scientist stood at a console, he looked like he has just awoken.
"Halt! We are the 40th Battalion, Marine Corps. Who goes there? Put your hands in the air." ordered Lta MacArthur.
The scientist raised his arms.
"My name is Dr Freeman. I'm the Chief Science Officer here."
"What happened here?"
"Someone came and knocked me and my colleagues out. They stole a dangerous sample from the chamber over there. Help me stop them from escaping, and I'll help you do whatever I can to help you too."
"We need to find out the cause of this... infection. What do you know about it?"
"Like I said, soldier, help me, and I'll help you. There are mini domes scattered around the city, with survivors. The city was on lockdown, so the perpetrators must have hid in one of them. I will release the containment device so you can access them, but in doing so, the infected hordes in the bio domes will also be allowed to escape."
"And after that you'll help us? How can we trust you and your word?" asked SgtMaj Cruz.
"Its your choice. I'm the only one left who knows anything about this outbreak. The stolen sample is very lethal, and if the perpetrators escape, we're in for another crisis." said Dr Freeman coolly.
The officers discussed for a while, and came to a conclusion.
"We'll help you. But we need better weapons. The ones we have are running out of ammunition and we could use upgraded gear." said 2Lt Wilde.
The scientist opened a locked cabinet. In it were a few laser rifles and a crowbar.
"Help yourselves. These weapons are still classified as experimental, but they should work fine. Bear in mind the laser rifles require cooling off every 3 minutes. We have not perfected the cooling system."
"Will do. And you'll stay in this lab?" asked 2Lt Wilde.
"Yes. I have to actively man the console as I operate the release mechanism. We shall communicate via the city's intercom system, and I will upload your communications frequency onto my lab's speakers."
"Marines! Let's roll out!" ordered Lta MacArthur.
"Wilde and Reynolds, you handle the civilians. Bring them to the containment facility to the east. We'll rendezvous there to conduct the interrogation."
"The rest of you, follow me. We're in for some purification."