Introduction and Glossary:
to my fan fiction based on the popular Alien/Predator franchises. This also
includes the alien creature from John Carpenter's The Thing. Although name of
the plot elements are taken from the John Carpenter movie, my inspiration for
the creature comes from the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W Campbell (the
source for the movie).
the story from all sides, I have included the thought process for The Thing and
also conversations between the Predators. I felt it would be too linear to have
them mute throughout.
Meaning Alien. Generalised description for the creature from the Alien movies
Hunter. The official name for the species of the creature from the Predator
Amedha: "Hard Meat" The Yautja name for the Xenomorph
Blood: Yautja term for an honourless exile. A bad blood returning to his
homeworld would mean instant death
expedition uncovers bodies in the Antarctic they unknowingly unleash an
unspeakable horror onto their party. A group of Yautja are attracted to the
struggle and discover an ancient enemy they thought to be long dead.
1: Chapter 1
One - Cold Storage
forced spirals of icy air into his lungs, every step felt like a marathon as his
boots were as heavy as lead on his weary feet. He trudged slowly and uneasily
making his way across the vast expanse of desolation that spread in front of
him. Although he was covered in many layers of clothing, the cold bit
mercilessly at the skin of his chapped and aching face. The briefcase he was
carrying was getting heavier with every step. As he stopped to regain his
breath, Martinez surveyed the landscape through squinted eyes. He was miles from
anywhere. In front of him lay an expanse of ice and snow that seemed to continue
infinitely. The freezing wind lapped at his legs and threatened to force him off
balance as he leaned forward to compensate. He looked down to his GPS. The
co-ordinates matched those in this morning’s briefing. The target destination
cross sat in the dead centre of the GPS screen as it beeped away happily. This
was the place. He placed the briefcase down onto the ground and pushed the
release buttons, the briefcase opened to reveal a blank LCD screen and a tripod
with several laser drill components. He deftly assembled the drill and activated
it. The laser drill whirred into life, slicing and penetrating deep into the
surface. After a few minutes the screen in the briefcase flashed text in bright
ORGANIC MATTER LOCATED
fumbled awkwardly with the latchet on his belt pack, swore under his breath and
pulled his glove off with his teeth. Although the metal of the fastening was
sticking to his fingers he unfastened the pack and fished out a handful of
marking flares which he then lit and placed along the ground at two meter
intervals. The flares emitted their crimson hue illuminating the bleak whiteness
of the icy ground on which they stood. Martinez pawed his radio with his
re-gloved hand, “I’ve found traces at the correct co-ordinates. I’ve marked you
out a parking space.” Martinez thought for a second and rekeyed the mic, “hurry
up and get me before I freeze”.
wrapped his arms around his torso as he was encircled in the icy grip of the
Antarctic wind. He looked to the horizon and saw a faint black spot that was
slowly increasing in size. As it got closer the mass took shape. The black
research helicopter thundered overhead and excited the snow that lay thick on
the ground causing it to swirl and dance in the air as if mesmerised by some
mystical music. The dance slowed to an almost stop as the helicopter touched the
ground. A tall, stocky figure stepped down onto the cold surface. He was; like
Martinez; also protected from the elements by layers of thick clothing. A snow
mask covered most of his face but his piercing ice blue eyes practically shone
in contrast to the pale snow and the dark clothing. Martinez turned to face the
new arrival. “Hey Sverre, Can we get this done quickly before I become a human
pulled a long sack from the helicopter and removed two larger versions of the
laser drill Martinez used earlier. He erected them effortlessly and placed them
either side of the flares then pulled his snow mask away from his face. “Ready?
Clear!” He yelled over the howls of the wind as he pushed the activation button
on the panel of the nearest drill and they burst into life. The drills started
to swivel slightly as they cut into the ground. The ice slowly started to melt.
Sverre, stop the cutting!” Sverre flipped the lasers to off.
stood at the lip of the hole and stared with amazement at the two bodies that
lay perfectly frozen in the ice. Sverre jumped into the hole and started to dig
with his gloved hands. Martinez followed suit. Both were working feverishly
trying to free the frozen bodies from their prison of ice. After what seemed an
eternity for both of them, the bodies were uncovered. Sverre knelt beside the
nearest. Martinez stepped forward, “Careful Sverre, they’ll be brittle. You
don’t wanna snap them.”
gently moved the corpse and noticed an open wallet laying beneath; he brushed
the ice from the top and studied the faded ID card. The name was Macready.
2: Chapter 2
Two – Bears, Beer and Broken Machines
progress bar seemed to be stuck on 95. Lewis was sure it had been there for the
best part of an hour. So far it had taken an entire morning to simply install an
operating system on a server. He was now in the midst of one of the most
uninspiring parts of the server rebuild; setting up the built in RAID array. It
was necessary to ensure that if any of the hard disks failed, there would be no
loss of data or production. RAID Mirroring did the job perfectly but
unfortunately took an age to set up on the gargantuan hard disks on this
particular server. He let out a disconcerted sigh and flicked the KVM switch
back to his own display. The display flickered as the progress bar disappeared
and a chess board wavered into view. The computer had yet again managed to force
him into a corner. He could see no means of escape from his predicament. It
seemed that there was only one course of action available for him to save any
last scrap of dignity. Lewis grabbed his mouse and clicked on the “X” in the
corner of his screen to close down the chess program.
crap”. He looked away in disgust and ran his fingers over his short dark hair.
He was only on his sixth week as resident support engineer of the outpost and he
was already starting to feel the walls closing in. He had worked in the IT field
since leaving school, not eight weeks ago Lewis had decided that enough was
enough; it was time for a career change. He had decided on enrolling into
medical school and using his skill with technology to help others. His dream had
been cut short with the announcement that his wife was expecting their first
child. They had been trying for so long that it seemed that there was no hope of
them ever conceiving, yet shortly after enrolling on his course in Nuclear
Medicine, she had broken the wonderful news to him. Realising that they would
need money quickly, he enrolled with an employment agency who had managed to
organise a six month stint at an “off-shore installation”. Off-shore had been an
understatement. He was now trapped in the freezing climate of the Antarctic,
watching hourglasses on PC screens and shooing away the occasional penguin. He
removed his wallet from his pocket and stroked the picture of his wife that was
attention was drawn away from his private family moment by the harsh beep
emanating from the server rack.
no!”, Lewis spun on his chair to face his screen and switched back to the
server. It had restarted. “Back to square one. Damn it!” He was going to have to
work late. He rolled a frozen Burrito into the microwave and watched it slowly
revolve on its turntable as he resigned himself to another evening with the
enchanting company of the servers.
the relative solitude of the server room, two figures moved down the long lonely
corridor leading to the main complex. One was a short stocky man with a long
bushy beard. He spun a set of keys around his index finger and occasionally made
a clicking sound with his tongue. The other, much taller man turned to him and,
with a look of pure agitation, placed his hand on the man’s chest. “Pollard.
Seriously, do you have to keep doing that?” He growled in a deep bassy tone. His
accent was a broken hybrid of American and Eastern European. It gave the
impression that he was well travelled. It was hard to tell from his voice where
he was from originally. In reality, he was from Norway. He and his brother,
Sverre, were two of the most respected polar navigators in the business.
just get nervous walking down this corridor. It gives me the creeps. I keep
thinking that damn dog is planning to escape and eat me or something” Pollard
shrugged and shoved his keys into his pocket, “Besides. It doesn’t help that you
keep filling my head with your weird theories on aliens and ghosts. So you,
Baldur the great storyteller, should stop freaking me out with tales of pixies
that eat your heart and wear your skin as clothing or whatever it was.”
grinned mischievously. “But you react so well to them. I have never known anyone
so gullible in my life”. He walked to the large dog cage that filled the left
hand wall of the corridor and placed his fingers through the wire. A shadow
crept into view and as Baldur wiggled his fingers it came closer to the wire.
“Come on, you” he purred soothingly as the large gray Husky padded toward him
and licked his fingers. Baldur pulled some beef jerky from his pocket and poked
it through the wire. The dog took the strip of dried meat and padded back into
the darkness with it.
finished? Can we go now?” Pollard didn’t look amused.
so, looks like Lewis is in there for the duration.” He stood up straight and
they made their way through the doorway into the main complex.
helicopter lowered onto the landing strip kicking a fine mist of ice into the
air on touchdown. Sverre and Martinez swung their legs out and slid onto the
cold hard ground. They each took a side of the large flat stretcher containing
the frozen cadavers and pulled it out of the side of the helicopter and onto the
icy floor below. They ran into the main entrance and headed for the medical
area. Martinez pointed down the long metallic cylindrical corridor, “There
should be a few trolleys nearby; we can use one of them to carry the subjects
into the lab.” Having found a large silver trolley they headed back outside to
the helicopter site. As they loaded the stretcher onto the trolley Sverre
noticed movement behind Martinez. A large imposing figure ambled through the
mist toward the pair. “Martinez, behind you!” Sverre pointed.
Martinez turned in time to see a large mouth and several razor sharp teeth only
inches away from his face. “Shit!” He vaulted over the trolley and turned to
fully face his attacker. The polar bear let out a roar of warning and rose onto
its hind legs, towering above them. Sverre pulled his handgun from his pocket
and fired it into the air. This sudden loud crack startled the bear and sent it
ambling back into the mists of ice and the pair quickly wheeled the trolley into
the safety of the complex.
Polar Bears. They get bolder every day” Martinez exclaimed as he kicked the snow
from his boots.
their natural habitat is it? They don’t know where they should be. Worse thing
we ever did was relocate them.” Sverre commented as he removed several layered
just let them die out I guess but just dumping them here and leaving them to it
seems a bit…”
“Irresponsible?” Sverre offered knowingly. He then pressed the talk button of
the wall mounted tannoy system, “Navarro, this is Sverre. We have your mummies
here. Where do you want them?”
crackled over the tinny speaker, “Just pop them in the cooler, I’ll come take a
on his fourth burrito and subsequently his fourth attempt at installing the
server that was quickly becoming his arch-nemesis when he was startled by a loud
bang on the door of the server room. He leaned over to the comm system attached
to the door, “go away”.
sure? I come bearing gifts!” came the voice of Sverre through the speaker.
Vodka, crisps and movies”, Lewis looked up at the window only to see the large
grinning face of Sverre as he stood there with bottles of beer, spirits, many
bags of potato chips and a selection of DVDs under his arm.
flipped the catch of the door and as Sverre strode into the room, Lewis
eyeballed the server, “There’s two of us now. Scared?“
caught a beer from Sverre, pulled the top off and leaned back in his chair. The
evening just got a lot more interesting.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Three – The Body of Childs
cruiser punched through the Earth’s atmosphere leaving a thick black smoke trail
in its wake. There was now no way of controlling it as it roared toward the
surface of the planet, its engines roared with a sound akin to a primal scream.
It left vapour trails as it pierced clouds and ploughed through the Earth’s
relatively thick atmosphere. The three occupants of the vessel braced themselves
for the inevitable impact. All three had been branded traitors to their race for
violating the honour code of their home world in one way or another. They were
not afraid; they would welcome death with open arms. Death was more favourable
than their current sentence of a life without honour; a life of banishment on an
alien planet. Their sentence was one of exile and forever being branded as “Bad
cruiser screamed through the atmosphere it began to further pick up speed and
was at this point plummeting toward the surface at breakneck velocity. The
surrounding area shook with the shockwave as the vessel finally pounded into the
icy, desolate wasteland. The freezing winds lapped at the hot chassis of the
craft causing steam to rise to the heavens, sparks flew and lights flickered on
the ship’s mangled body. As the steam cleared, all that could be heard in the
dead of the night was the cruel unrelenting Antarctic wind. The ship lay
motionless for hours until shadows began to move on the inside.
the door started to open.
looked upon the now thawed body of MacReady with great interest. It was almost
perfectly preserved. There were obvious signs of ice burns and the skin had
started to break down but you would suspect that he had been dead less than 3
days rather than the thirty years it had actually been. His pale sullen face and
closed sunken eyes suggested that although he died of exposure to the harsh
elements, he died relatively peacefully. In short: Time had stood still for
MacReady, his hand still clutching a bottle of whiskey which he must have been
using to keep himself oblivious to the cold. The other body had been taken out
of the cooler much later and as a result had only just begun to thaw. Navarro
let his mind wander as he cleaned up MacReady’s corpse. The post-mortem had
shown nothing unusual. He had simply stopped living and been preserved in an icy
tomb for decades. This meant that their mission had been a success. The joint
commission had been reluctant to allow further scientific tests in the area due
to the unexplained deaths of a team from Norway and the disappearance of a team
from America. They were concerned that some form of contagion might have been
responsible for the loss of so many people. Giving Macready’s body the all-clear
was encouraging. When the second body comes up clear the Commission will have no
other option but to allow teams to take up permanent residence here again.
Navarro relished the prospect of being permitted to lead expeditions to such an
untapped archaeological location. “You mustn’t be far off ready, my friend.” he
mused as he turned to look over the second body; it was still quite stiff,
definitely still too cold for the post-mortem. In life, it had been a fairly
broad shouldered male, his dark skin suggested that he was of African descent.
Navarro placed his hands on the torso and noted that the clothing was now
pliable. He slowly unzipped the body-warmer and looked for any passes or wallet
to aid in identification, there was none, as he pulled slightly on the jacket he
noted the embroidered name on the breast of the shirt. “Childs, eh? At least we
know who you both are.” He covered the bodies with silver sheets, removed his
gloves and made to leave the medical area, stopping only to glance back at his
subjects and finally switch off the lights.
filled the room with only the light from the corridor creeping in through the
gap between the door and the tiled floor. The silence was then broken by a
slight but constant sound. Nobody was around to hear the repetitive dripping
sound of the ice melting on the suddenly quickly thawing corpse of Childs. Had
somebody been there, they might have noticed that Navarro had not properly
covered the bodies and had left Child’s foot uncovered. It is pretty certain
also that had somebody been in the room at the time, they also would have seen
that uncovered foot twitch.
recreation room was a very basic large cube shaped area with a few mismatched
couches dotted around and dominated by a large metallic circular table. The room
contained a few basic creature comforts. Navarro entered the recreation room and
sat at the table. He glanced around at the others who had congregated there to
wind down after their days work. Martinez, Baldur and Pollard all sat on a large
squarish couch facing a wall painted brilliant white. The projector was
currently in use and throwing a six foot high image of a large green monster
chasing a screaming damsel against the wall. At the other side of the room,
Kristanna was curled up on a smaller couch thoroughly engrossed in a battered
old book, she looked over the top of the book and nodded, “Hi Doc”
Krissy. What’s that you’ve got? Another one of your horror books? What is it
this time, Blood sucking Vampires or evil zombie rabbits?”
smiled, “Neither. Its one I found in the Library. I’ve only just started it but
I’m already hooked”. Navarro shook his head, to him; bookish people were a
certain way. Kristanna didn’t meet his stereotype. She was smart, attractive and
was actually very interesting to talk to. She just loved books. Navarro wished
that she gave him half the attention she gave her books. He’d fallen in love
with her within the first month of working with her. He would have told her how
he felt if it wasn’t for the fact that they got on so well. If she rejected him,
things would probably become so awkward between them that they couldn’t work
together. He didn’t want that at all so he had decided to settle for a close
server had crashed again but Lewis was way past caring. He and Sverre sat on the
floor, cross-legged and watching their third movie of the evening. Lewis took a
valiant swig from the vodka bottle, grimaced and passed it to Sverre; who,
without looking away from the screen, took the bottle and added some into his
glass. The glass now contained beer, schnapps, vodka and a small amount of
Ethanol they had found in the cleaning cupboard. It was evident that Sverre was
now extremely drunk. His speech was slurred, he had developed a squint and now
sported a rather attractive pair of bunny ears that he had found in one of the
desks. Lewis opened yet another beer bottle and held it aloft, “Did I tell you,
I’m gonna be a daddy?”
clanged his glass against the bottle and cheered drunkenly, “I know. I know; you
must be so proud. I know when I had my first; I was so happy that I could have
burst.” Sverre suddenly looked uneasy.
banged at his chest frantically, his eyes bulging. Lewis slapped him hard on his
back and Sverre release a loud, resonating belch that took Lewis by surprise and
the two fell about in fits of laughter. Lewis looked up at the server screens. A
light was flashing, one that never usually does. It was the proximity alarm.
Lewis struggled to his feet and made for the tannoy system. “Hey, proximity’s
going off. Anybody working on the doors?”
speaker crackled into life, “This is Navarro, we’re all in recreation. We’re
missing Sverre. Is he with you?”
looked down at Sverre's now snoring form, “Yeah, kinda.”
you check on Akira? She might have gotten out of her cage again. I’ll check the
Lewis stepped over the sleeping Sverre and wandered down the corridor to the dog
cage. Akira was curled up sleeping in one corner of the cage. Lewis’ presence
caused her to stir slightly and through heavy blinks she stared at him for a
short time. Realizing that she was in no danger, The gray husky stretched her
mouth wide into a yawn and settled back to sleep.
walked to the main entryway and immediately felt the chilling breeze that
whipped through the door that now hung loosely from its hinges. He pulled a fire
axe from the wall and walked to the door, pushing it closed with his foot while
jamming the fire axe between the handles to keep it closed. Had something tried
to get in? Had something successfully gotten in? The polar bears were coming
closer and closer to the camp but would they be capable of bringing the thick
steel door down? He looked up the corridor to the dog cage, he could see Lewis
watching Akira sleep. He turned to face the medical section’s corridor and
froze. The lab door was swinging. Something had gotten into the labs. Had it
harmed the bodies? He had to be sure. Navarro gingerly walked down the dark
corridor toward the lab room. He peered into the room. There was nothing in
there. What had caused so much damage? A bear would have ransacked the place for
food. Everything in the room was intact. He could see the outline of MacReady’s
body in the shadows. He turned to flick the overhead lights on. As the room
filled with light, a grim realisation grasped him.
body was missing.
4: Chapter 4
Four – Seeing Ghosts
consecutive sweep of the immediate area surrounding the outpost had proved
equally as fruitless as the previous two. The body was nowhere to be seen. It
was by no means fresh meat so the polar bears would not have considered it food,
besides; the body of MacReady had been closer to the door than Childs’. The team
now stood in the lab where the body was last seen, each as confused as the
to be bears”, exclaimed Martinez with a hopeful tone.
shook his head dismissively, “No, bears wouldn’t have taken a lump of half
frozen rotted meat. No matter how hungry they were”
they’re either really hungry or pissed off about something. One of them went for
me just outside the door earlier today. If Sverre hadn’t…” Martinez’s rant was
cut short as Sverre stepped into the conversation.
but I don’t think a bear is the culprit on this one.”
looked spooked; he headed to the damaged lab door and pointed excitedly, “Look
at the fucking claw marks! It’s either a bear or one angry penguin! Face it.
Something has gotten in here and dragged out the body like some sort of take-out
examined the marks on the door and muttered under his breath. “Except the door
was forced from inside.”
did the clawing; clawed its way out. Not in. Besides, the door is hanging out.
If something had broken in, the door would have been inside the room.”
shuddered, “He’s right. So something might have been in here with me tonight.
raised his eyebrows to acknowledge the grim fact. “Looks like it.”
shuddered again, “Why are there no drag marks in the snow? A body is large and
heavy, especially a dead one.”
server room, Lewis stood staring in horror at the small screen in front of him.
The colour had drained from his face. Could his eyes be playing tricks on him?
His hand shakily pressed the call button on the tannoy system.
I think I’ve found something on the CCTV.”
speaker emitted a few crackles followed by Navarro’s voice, “What is it?”
looked at the image on the tape again. He had to be sure. He did have a lot to
drink earlier but this sight was enough to sober any man. “Its best if you just
come take a look.”
lab, the others glanced at each other quizzically. Navarro took a deep breath,
shook his head and rekeyed the communicator, “Okay, I’m on my way”
former occupants of the now derelict space cruiser stood a little away from the
crash site. All three were now surveying the landscape looking for some form of
retreat from the blizzard. The thermal netting around their torsos was
insufficient to protect them from the cold for any serious length of time. There
seemed to be no sign of life in this desolate wasteland, no chance of a
sanctuary from the cold. Little chance of survival. As part of their punishment
they had been stripped of their advanced weaponry and now had to rely on their
spears and their wristblades. It appeared that they would have little use for
creatures trudged through the frozen desert in a random direction hoping that if
they could not find shelter, death would quickly find them. On their home world,
they had identities, they had lives. They had names. The tallest creature,
clearly the oldest of the three, was a former soldier. His visor was worn and
cracked in places and bore marks where claws had scratched and acid had burnt.
Back home he had disobeyed orders to retreat from battle and instead returned to
rescue his fallen friend. Tra’Bir had served his people. And now they condemned
was once a simple hunting clansman, he travelled the known galaxies in search of
big game. On his last hunt he had been incompetent, one of the creatures, known
as the kainde amedha or “hard meat”, had managed to stow away on his craft and
survive the journey to the home world where it had killed many unarmed clansmen
before being subdued and destroyed by the hunters.
smallest of the three, known as Ramnah, had not even earned the mark of his
clan. On his first hunt he was hunting a humanoid soft meat race. They were
heavily reliant on their primitive technology and their futile attempt at
defending themselves was easily neutralized. He had engaged one particular
target and seconds before claiming his prize with his wristblade, the youngling
of the prey had run to the aid of its parent and was noticeably pleading for
Ramnah to show mercy. He had been reminded of his father and had been distracted
long enough for the soft meats to make their escape.
stopped in his tracks. He was receiving heat signatures on his infra red vision.
Through the mists of ice and snow, a figure appeared silhouetted. As it came
closer to the hunters; the mass split into four. The four polar bears were
fleeing something. The hunters could tell their motion was that of quarry
fleeing a predator. These beasts had run in the wrong direction. The three
hunters would now have sufficient animal pelt to make warm cloaks. As the bears
lifted onto their rear legs defensively the hunters extended their wristblades
and moved in for the kill.
stared at the grainy image that jumped and flickered on the small screen. It was
an outside view of the main doors. He watched as the door on the screen lurched
open. He drew closer to the screen as a dark figure ambled from the darkness
into view. The image was grainy and low resolution. The cameras were very basic.
They needed to be to cope with the inhospitable climate outside. The more
features a device had, the more could go wrong. Even though the image wasn’t
clear, it was obvious what he was looking at. It was Childs.
fuck?” Navarro muttered as he stared at the image moving slowly across the
screen. It was without doubt the body he was looking at mere hours ago. It
looked like a man but the way it moved, the way it held itself up seemed.
forced a laugh. Unfortunately due to the sick feeling in his throat it came as
only a whimper, “This is your guy? I thought he was dead.”
looked away from the screen and towards Lewis. His face pale and gravely
serious, “He was. There is no way he could have survived all that time in the
ice. He was frozen solid.”
pointed to the screen, “Woah, woah! There! What’s he holding?”
paused the screen, “What the hell is that?”, he was pointing at a grotesque
appendage that swung at the side of the image, like an elongated trunk with
jagged claws at the end.
inspected the image closer, “Judging by the marks on the door and by the
apparent absence of the limb in that area. I think that’s his arm”
folded his arms and placed his fist in front of his mouth, “What on Earth are we
looking at here? I sure don’t believe in zombies but this thing was definitely
dead when we pulled it from the ice.”
pulled his PDA from his pocket, “We’ve got a remote unit scouting the general
area where the bodies were found. We seem to have found a large mass only a few
hundred clicks away. We think it might have been the Norwegian base camp. We
might get some answers there.”
raised his hand, “I’ll go. Anything’s better than sitting here letting our minds
wander over this. I’ll take a team and we’ll look over the site. See if we can
get some answers. We’ll take a look for our new friend too. Find out where he’s
5: Chapter 5
Five – The First Assimilation
hunters showed little interest in the last remaining, much smaller bear as it
disappeared into the mist, they carefully removed the skins from the three dead
bears that lay in the ice, cutting holes in certain places and fashioning them
into cloaks. The ice was stained deep red from the pool of blood that slowly
melted it with its warmth. Fear gave the remaining polar bear the energy to
burst into a sprint to escape the creatures that had slaughtered his brothers.
He was badly injured and too weak to defend himself but he knew that if he
stayed he would surely die.
needed to find its way back to the remainder of its family; to heal its wounds
and warn of the approaching aggressors. As the adrenaline wore off, the bear
started to slow, its wounds and profound blood loss sapping its very strength.
As it slowed to a trot, it could smell something new. It could smell man. A meal
would help keep its strength up for the journey home. As the bear followed the
scent, it happened upon a still figure lying in the distance. The bear
cautiously made its way toward its intended meal.
lay motionless on the icy ground with its strength all but gone. It had been
lying dormant for years waiting for its current host to be reanimated or to be
brought closer to new hosts. It had not yet received the opportunity to
assimilate another form, it was still too weak to reveal its true self in an
attempt to take over another. Its previous victims all those years ago had been
insistent on cutting it open; it was in no doubt that these new ones would wish
to do the same. It was not yet strong enough to defend itself against multiple
beings so the best chance of survival was to leave the warm place and find a
stray to assimilate. It could wait. It had just waited for decades, before that
it had lay dormant for millions of years. As it lay there it could sense a
heartbeat; a warm, strong heartbeat. It was getting closer. The alien let its
mind wash over the atmosphere and try to enter the creature’s thoughts. The
creature had been attacked. It was weak. The alien knew that with this new beast
that was coming ever closer came the chance to regain its strength. A chance to
take the form of those beings that embraced technology. Scanning the minds of
its previous hosts it had learned something of a place called a City. Many
beings co-existing in close proximity. It would be so easy to replicate and
continue its species in such a place.
came closer and started to nudge the body with its shiny black nose. Its prey
was obviously too weak to defend itself. It would eat well. The bear opened its
mouth and sank its teeth into the throat of the prone body. As the teeth pierced
the flesh the body started to convulse. The bear pulled a large chunk out of the
throat and stepped back in surprise as the figure started to violently spasm.
The bear roared and leapt toward the body as its chest split in two and long
strands of sinew shot forth and wrapped around the bears neck. With extremely
violent force the bear’s head was forced into the chest cavity of the alien and
the bear let out a final muffled yelp. The bear fell limp and silent as the
thick strands of flesh wrapped themselves around its white furry form and pulled
helicopter had been fuelled and was prepped and ready to go, Sverre and Martinez
climbed up into the cockpit and Baldur lifted Akira into the back then climbed
in himself. The rotors picked up speed and slowly the helicopter lifted off the
ground and headed off towards the location given to them by Navarro. They
thundered over the frozen surface, over snowy dunes and crevices and finally
over a single polar bear that watched them intently as they hovered into the
distance and began to descend. Slowly, the bear turned and started to walk
toward the landing site.
sat on the worktop in the research lab. She casually swung her legs back and
forth while reading her book. Navarro was placing Macready’s body into an extra
thick bodybag in preparation for placing it into the freezer. He wasn’t going to
take the chance of this one suddenly getting up and walking. He was momentarily
distracted as Kristanna flicked her hair and pushed it behind her ear. He
stopped for a moment and just watched her read. She obviously found escapism
from reading her stories. He felt words come to the tip of his tongue. All he
needed to do was open his mouth and she would know how he felt about her. With
great restraint he forced the words back down into his stomach. ‘Stupid.
Stupid.’ He thought to himself. ‘I’m a highly trained biologist and qualified
Doctor of Medicine and around her I become as articulate as a fourteen year
old.’ He shook the thoughts from his head and busied himself with securing the
body. Kristanna looked over her book and watched Navarro work for a short time.
She liked him; he was really the only one who gave her the time of day when she
was first posted at the installation. Without doubt he was the only one she
could actually count as a friend. Sure, the others were friendly but he was
there when she needed cheering up.
placed her book down onto the worktop and slid herself off, “I’m going to grab
some coffee. Fancy some?”
placed the final lock on the bodybag and slammed it onto the freezer. “Please.
White; no sugar.”
sat in the recreation area with the couch facing the door. He had been sat there
since the team left for the Norwegian site and not moved a muscle. Lewis walked
into the room. “Dude, you’ve been sat there ages. You’re going to be stuck there
if you carry on.”
moving I want my eyes on that door in case that thing comes for me.”
all good and well but you’re missing one thing.”
eyes narrowed, “What? What am I missing?”
laughed, “It could just as easily come through the window behind you. Sweet
whimpered and moved the sofa into the corner to face into the room. Lewis
grabbed a few beers from the refrigerator and headed back to his bunk. He
flicked on his floor heater and climbed onto his bed. He twisted the cap off of
one of the beers and fished his wallet out of his back pocket and immediately
opened it to the picture of a happy young couple embracing on a beach. It was
the only picture he had brought of his wife. They had it taken on one of their
monthly trips to the coast. He could not remember a happier time than when he
was with her. He stroked the image of her face and brushed a single lazy tear
from his eye before switching his desk lamp off, switching the radio on and
allowing himself to fade away with the music.
hunters watched the light go out in the complex and listened with interest to
the sounds that were being emitted from the room. Bok’Tof activated his
wristcomp’s locator and found that the sound was being received as part of a
radio transmission. He set the locator to track the frequency and playback. As
the static faded, the music Lewis was listening to began to play in Bok’Tof’s
helmet. Having determined that it was a Human language, he activated his
translator. The broadcast seemed to be describing the actions of an unknown
party. Bok’Tof increased the volume and listened intently to the translation:
leaves are brown.”
signatures increased as other entities entered the area containing the audio
sky is gray.”
went out in most areas of the complex. The inhabitants of the building must have
been preparing to sleep.
for a walk”
cluster of lights at the far end of the complex remained on. Bok’Tof gestured to
the others. There must be a few remaining in that area. They should move now and
neutralize them and take this shelter as their own.
switched off the radio broadcast. It was some pointless repetition of words
along with a melody; a nonsensical message. He clicked his mandibles with
agitation. Finally the three hunters made their way around the complex to
investigate the source of the lights.
and Navarro sat across from each other in the lab area nursing their hot cups of
coffee and generally putting the world to rights. “So, Krissy; how are you
finding it here? Not too boring I hope.” Navarro mentally kicked himself ‘damn.
What kind of stupid question was that?’
took a sip from her coffee and placed it on the table beside her, “It’s quite
good. I’m able to discover more about this region, more about myself and there’s
always lots of time to get through my piles of reports and papers.”
smiled, “There’s not much going on here though. It’s a good job you are into
books. Not much exciting happens in reality.”
wouldn’t say that. I use books as a distraction really. Keep my mind off things”
blushed and looked away. “Just, things.”
moved outside the window as the hunters moved in.
can’t leave it there. What things?”
Kristianna looked to Navarro and blushed even more, “Well I… Ah.. The thing
is…”, she became flustered and went silent.
heart skipped a beat. Was he reading this conversation properly? Were his
feelings reciprocated? He leant towards Kristanna and placed his hand on hers.
“I have a thing too.”
hunters stood on the roof watching the scene unfurl below, waiting for their
moment to strike.
smiled and bit at her lip, “Really? And what’s your thing?” she asked in a
up to the ceiling looking for inspiration from above, “Krissy. Thing is. I…”
Navarro stopped his words and his eyes widened as a pair of green eyes flashed
in the vent above them. He looked into Kristanna’s eyes pleadingly and mouthed a
single word to her. She watched as his mouth formed a single command. He had
told her to run. The vent in the ceiling shattered as a large armoured figure
dropped to the floor. Navarro ran back to the mortuary table and grabbed the
cleaver, As the creature turned to face Kristanna Navarro leapt forward, "Not
her, you son of a bitch". Navarro's feet hardly left the ground before he felt a
sharp pain in his abdomen as the creature impaled him with a large metallic
spear. With his final breath, Navarro reissued his final order to Kristanna,
grabbed a handful of scalpels and threw one toward the creature, it stuck in its
arm. The creature roared with contempt and tore the scalpel from its arm. As it
began to advance towards her, Kristanna leapt to her feet and ran as fast as her
legs would allow. She sprinted toward the recreation block where Pollard had
been. As she burst into the room she found herself alone there. Without stopping
she continued to run into the residential area containing the bunks, she could
hear heavy footfalls getting louder and louder. They were chasing her and they
were gaining. As she turned the corner she felt a spear skim past her head as it
lodged into the wall beside her. She dived through the door and engaged all the
dead bolts. The door was at least six inches thick. They would be safe in there
woke with a start. “Krissy, what the fuck?”
on the edge of Lewis’ bed and buried her head into her hands, “There are these
things outside the door”
eyes widened again, “like that body we found?”
things are different. I didn’t get a good look but they’re much bigger.”
Damn! What do we do?”
up in bed, “Right, we wait here until we can get in touch with Navarro. He knows
how to move around here using the ceiling structure and the like. He’ll know
what to do.”
welled in Kirstanna’s eyes, “Navarro is dead.”
6: Chapter 6
Six - Shapes in the Ice
watching the lasers burn into the ice. As they cut deeper, the steam slowly
started to rise. A criss-cross pattern was etched into the ground and the
resulting water and sludge was pumped out into a large container. They had found
something. It wasn't a building but was instead, large metallic object around a
mile across. They had located the dead centre and a deep probe drill had
confirmed the existence of some manner of door or hatch. Sverre had offered the
suggestion that it was an old submarine that had been lost during one of the
many wars. Baldur would hear nothing other than it being a giant tripod killing
machine hell-bent on destroying humanity. Martinez just wanted to go back. He
had a bad feeling about this place and suspected that Baldur's outlandish theory
wasn't far wrong. Before long the ice surrounding the hatchway had been melted
away and it was safe to take a closer look. Martinez offered to guard the
helicopter while Sverre and Baldur explored their find.
made their way through the hatchway the brothers realised that this vessel was
no submarine, in fact, they doubted very much that this giant craft had been
crafted by human hands. There were symbols on the walls that looked completely
alien, there was no man made language known on the Earth that had such imagery.
The ceilings were extremely low indicating that the inhabitants of this place
were no larger than five feet tall. As they descended into the bowels of the
craft, it became much more alien; the most unsettling thing being the floor
lights that were still functioning. As they reached the very bottom of the craft
they discovered a room containing several giant rectangular cases. Sverre pulled
his crowbar out of his backpack and prised the nearest case open. Contained
within was an equally large rectangular block of ice covered in a thin layer of
frost. Sverre leaned forward and removed the covering of frost with his glove.
What he saw made him jump with fright. "Oh shit!" he cried, "Baldur, take a look
at this!" Baldur leaned over and peered into the container. Trapped in the
centre of the ice was a creature; approximately five feet tall with electric
blue strands of snake like hair; its face merely a skull thinly covered with
dark grey skin. Its three eyes were an angry deep crimson that seemed to reflect
pure hate and rage. Baldur tapped the top of the block, "Ugly fucker. Let's get
out of here. There are no answers here and this place gives me the creeps."
can't leave this. It's a significant find. You take a few pictures of the ship's
interior. Pass me the hand cutter, we're taking this freak show on the road",
Sverre took the hand laser from Baldur and began to cut through the ice block.
sat on the side of the helicopter nursing his hip flask. Of all the places in
the world he could be, he was sat on a giant clump of ice at the end of the
Earth. He would rather be where he was than down in the belly of that... Thing.
It always surprised Martinez how Sverre could be so nonchalant when faced with
something so eerie. He put it down to having a lunatic like Baldur as a brother.
That would pretty much mess your head up for life. He shook his head and took a
swig from his flask. Akira started growling and barking at the now aggressive
mists of ice and snow.
at ghosts little girl? You're spending too much time on your own". Martinez
reached down to stroke Akira's bristling fur but as his fingertips touched her
back she bolted into the mists growling and snarling at very air around her.
"Damn it you stupid mutt! Get back here!" Martinez cursed as he jumped to his
feet and wandered after the dog. He hadn't travelled far when he saw Akira stood
facing away from him. She was sniffing the air as if looking for the source of
all her troubles.
girl, come here." Martinez called in soothing tones. Akira turned and started
walking toward him as he held his hand out to beckon her. "Come on. You scared
the shit out of me."
point Akira froze. The hair on her back raised, her teeth bared and her mouth
twisted into a snarl. Martinez stepped back in shock. "What the fuck is wrong
with you? It's me!" Akira wasn't listening as she stood firm, her growl almost
constant now. Martinez looked into her eyes. She was afraid. He then realised
that she wasn't looking at him, she was looking over his shoulder. As he turned
slowly to face the cause of Akira's distress he felt a sharp pain in his side as
a large paw knocked him to the ground causing him to hit his head hard on an
outcrop of ice. As the darkness started to close in around him he heard a
sickening tearing sound shortly followed by a dog's yelp.
hunters made their final preparations and headed back outside. They had secured
sufficient human technology to rig together heating equipment and slightly
primitive plasmacasters. They no longer had any need for this human habitation.
They had decided to allow the humans that remained there to live, they could
return later to hunt them if they ever became bored. Tra'Bir stood at the
entrance, his giant frame almost filling it. He gestured to the others that it
was time to leave and the three filed out of the complex and headed into the
bleak Antarctic mists.
paced back and forth in the heavily barricaded bunk room. "We are so fucked. We
can't stay in here for long, there's no food and no water and I'm pretty sure if
those, whatever they are, want to come in here, they'll find a way." Kristanna
breathed a heavy sigh and gazed out of the window. At that moment her heart
jumped as she saw their chance at survival.
She pointed excitedly at the three figures in the distance, "they're leaving!"
Pollard pushed in front of the second smaller window.
are they going?"
started to remove the barricade, "I don't care. While they're gone we can get
supplies or maybe even get in touch with the away team and get that chopper
back. Kristanna's face filled with hope, "Escape."
Kristanna and Lewis all hurriedly pulled the heavy furniture away from the thick
steel door and rushed to pull it open. The outside corridor was dark, cold and
grim. The air was icy and sharp. The cold pierced their skin and chilled them to
generator's offline," Pollard cursed. "We're gonna freeze if we don't get that
back up and running."
spun to face the other two. "I bet that's why they left. They came in from the
cold. As soon as it got cold in here they abandoned."
wasn't convinced. "What if they come back? They've already. That is. They, took
Navarro. They might be waiting for us to come out. They might have laid traps."
chance I personally am willing to take. If you guys want to stay in there I'll
bring you supplies but I get the feeling they've either changed their minds
about us or got what they wanted."
and Kristanna looked at Lewis' determined expression and decided to take the
climbed the rope ladder to the surface with great difficulty. Not only was the
rope made slippery by the melting ice surrounding it but also the weight of the
block of ice that was now strapped to his back was sapping his upper body
strength with every rung he climbed. Baldur now stood on the surface helping to
bear the weight by hoisting Sverre with a separate rope.
need to lose some weight. You might wanna reconsider the evenings of Burritos
and beer you spend with Lewis. And maybe learn to love salads." Sverre reached
the top of the ladder and crawled onto the icy floor. He caught his breath as
his brother helped him back to his feet.
I'm the same weight as when we got here and second, I'd rather die than love
guys ready? The weather is taking a turn for the worse so we should think about
heading back." Sat in the side of the helicopter was Martinez, Akira padded up
to Baldur and began to nuzzle his hand.
me, have you?" He crouched down ruffled the dog's fur, "lets get back, the
others will love to see what we have found." Akira regarded the occupant of
Sverre's ice block with a certain degree of interest as he slid it into the back
of the helicopter and the team headed back to the outpost.
7: Chapter 7
Seven – Subversion
wreckage of the space cruiser had now been lifted out of the crater and sat
level with the ground. It’s buckled chassis now serving as the hunters’
temporary home. While the weather outside was harsh and unforgiving, the
temperature within the craft was now much more bearable. The cold fusion reactor
was back online and the ship’s guidance systems and life support were running at
full operational capacity. Bok’Tof sat at the main controls and gazed out into
the frozen wasteland outside. It was obvious that they would not be able to
escape their predicament. They were trapped on the planet with no effective
means of interstellar transport. The ship might, however, be able to be repaired
enough to relocate them to warmer climes. Bok’Tof thought back to the lush arid
landscape of the place of his first hunt. Anger welled inside him as he dwelled
on his exile to such a cold, soulless void. There must be more life than the
paltry soft meat and toothed carpets they had encountered thus far. He eyed the
entity scanner on the dashboard, willing it to find an answer. He shook his head
and started to turn away when suddenly the scanner emitted an excited beep and
started flashing reams of data on screen. In his own language, the screen was
filled with red characters. The characters read:
SIGNATURE FOUND. CELLULAR IDENTIFICATION COMPLETE…
TYPE 5 CELLULAR FORM DETECTED – ZONE CONSIDERED CONTAMINATED
tilted his head in wry interest. He punched up the details for a type 5. He felt
a mix of fear and excitement grip him as further data filled the screen. As an
infant he had heard the stories of a species that lived millions of years ago; a
species so evil and so centred on its own progression that every individual
pore, cell and sinew would fight for its own survival if necessary. This was a
race of beings that took on the form of their vanquished opponents in order to
blend in and slowly take over relatively unnoticed. The stories told of these
things laying waste to hoards of the Kainde Amedha and almost wiping out the
then primitive Yautja.
charged his plasmacaster, stowed his spear in his armour, crept away from the
others and made his way toward the source of the signal.
clicked his mandibles in excitement at the thought of claiming one as a trophy.
going to hunt the Changeling.
this is Sverre, we’re on our way back. We will report our findings on arrival.”
grabbed the mic; “Sverre. How far off are you?”
eight minutes. I was expecting regular contact with you, has there been a
problem with the comms?”
ran into a little trouble of our own. I’ll explain more when you land. Pollard
says he’ll meet you at the doors, over.”
helicopter thundered over the perimeter fence of the outpost and finally came to
rest on the landing pad and the team unloaded their new cargo and carried it
into the building. Once inside, Pollard was there to greet them. He looked pale
as a ghost and shakily held a portable flame thrower at his side.
smile dropped into a concerned frown, “What’s happened?”
an encounter with some sort of beings.”
wasn’t one of those. It was something else.”
said they were huge and wore some sort of armour. They used weapons and. Oh man.
shook his head, “They killed him. We managed to get images from the CCTV but
they leave us clueless as to their origin. One thing’s for certain though; they
don’t look human.”
Martinez and Sverre manhandled the ice block onto a nearby trolley. Sverre
turned to face Pollard, “I guess you don’t want to see our little find, then?”
stared down at the deep red eyes in the ice, “What the hell is that? This is the
third piece of weird shit we’ve seen so far. Navarro’s gone so we have nobody to
examine it so we should just burn it.”
jumped forward, “No! We need to keep it here. I mean; I doubt its going to wake
up and kill us. Look at it.”
turned on Martinez, “Yeah? You would have thought that about a body trapped in
ice for decades. What did it do? It came alive, grew a weird arm thing and
clawed its way outside. Burn the fucker.”
waved his hands dismissively, “Look, while it’s frozen it is trapped. Dead or
alive; it’s going nowhere. Let’s stick it in the freezer and discuss this
protests from Pollard, Sverre pushed the trolley into the lab area, slid the ice
block into the freezer and slammed the door shut. “There, safe and sound.”
forced a fake smile, “Which, it or us?”
closed the newly repaired lab door and made their way into the recreation area
where the rest of the team sat in stony silence, the reality of their loss had
fallen upon them and all sat in a collective daze, unsure of the proper
reaction. Akira lay under the pool table watching the red glow of the large
storage heater at the other end of the room. Pollard stared at Kristanna for a
spell then broke the silence. “We’re sat here just waiting for those fuckers to
come back. We need to be ready for them.”
leant forward to meet Pollard’s eyes, “Which fuckers? So far I count two, not
including the polar bears and the freaky popsicle in the freezer.” He glanced
around to the others, “Pollard is right though. We could at least have regular
patrols of the main points of entry and the occasional review of the security
tapes. Those not on watch can get some shut-eye”
shook her head “Good idea, but I doubt I’ll ever sleep again. Mind if I take
shrugged indifference “All yours, if you want it. Take the flamer in case you
get bear trouble.”
stood, prised the flame thrower from Pollard’s grip and headed out into the
corridor. Baldur stood and suppressed a yawn “I’ll take next watch. Bed, I
think. Get Krissy to wake me when she gets back. Better lock you up girl.
C’mon”. Akira crawled out from under the table and padded past Baldur and out of
the room toward the kennel cage. Baldur followed the dog and started to close
the cage behind her. She turned and poked her nose through the wire and
whimpered softly. Her big black eyes stared imploringly into Baldur’s. He
instantly melted, “I guess today’s spooked you too, eh? I guess it’ll be ok if
you came in with me for tonight.” He opened the cage and tapped his thigh. Akira
padded happily to his side and followed him into the sleeping quarters and
curled up at the end of his bed. “G’night girl.” Baldur slid into bed and turned
off the bedside lamp. The room was filled with darkness as he drifted off to
stood at the junction between the server area and the medical labs. She placed
the flamethrower onto a nearby worktop and rubbed her eyes wearily. She was
certain that she could not sleep but her body was slowly shutting down due to
the exhaustion from the day’s events. She had been wandering the corridors for
the best part of four hours. Her mind kept replaying that moment in the lab. She
could still see Navarro’s face; his command for her to run; his assailants
pursuing her. And where were they now? Why had they left when they did? As she
struggled with the answers to those questions she glanced around the junction
looking for something other than those haunting thoughts to occupy her mind. As
she turned to face the med lab her heart skipped a beat and a wave of panic
washed over her like a tsunami. There was a dark figure near the labs. She
reached back and grabbed the flame thrower and cautiously paced down toward the
entity. As she grew closer she reached out to the wall and hurriedly flicked on
the overhead lights. The figure jumped back in surprise. It was Pollard.
Krissy. You scared the shit out of me!”
what the hell are you doing creeping around here? I almost toasted you!”
couldn’t rest without checking that the thing in the ice was still there.
Whenever I close my eyes I see its dark red eyes. It’s like its watching me, but
from my own brain. Does that sound crazy?”
shook her head “No, it sounds like it’s got you spooked. We’re all like that.
Just sit tight, The atmosphere will clear up tomorrow and we can radio for help.
Lets head back to the rec room. I could do with a good coffee.”
face relaxed, “Remember where we are. We’re still on the Outpost, you know.
There’s only shit coffee here.”
take a shit coffee then. Come on.”
voices and footsteps disappeared; a figure rounded the corner. The lab door
opened. The figure moved slowly to the freezers and looked through each view
window until it had found the ice block. Then; without hesitation; it twisted
the dial to the “off” position and returned to the sleeping quarters.
8: Chapter 8
Eight – Caged
blizzard had almost covered the stricken craft with its icy curtain. The
temperatures outside were plummeting quickly. Inside, Tra’Bir entered the
cockpit of the craft and sat at the co-pilot seat. He was followed by Ramnah who
prised open a locker behind the navigation console and pulled several packs of
emergency rations from within. Tra’Bir tried to ignore the noise as he
contemplated the circumstances surrounding their exile and Bad Blood status.
There was absolutely no way that clan law would require their exile for their
disobeying commands in order to rescue his comrade; he had been expecting a
court marshal and eventual demotion to warrior status. Ramnah had shown
compassion to his quarry, surely he would have been made to face an extended
blooding trial to instil the ways of the hunter within him? Even Bok’Tof’s
negligence would only qualify him for farming labour on one of the outworld
penal colonies. Even though the three Yautja had never before met, their trials
had been held simultaneously. Their sentencing had also come as a surprise to
the council of Elders who had left the punishment in the hands of Maknah, the
clan high priest. Although the punishment was overly harsh, it was not
acceptable to question the high priest. Tra’Bir paused for a moment; an eerie
sense of foreboding entered him. He slowly spun the chair to face his comrade.
“Ramnah, have you seen Bok’Tof?”
stood, peered into the sleeping section of the craft and then returned. “Bok’Tof
is not here. His spear is also missing”
turned to face the cockpit again. Bok’Tof’s actions were confusing. This
landscape was desolate. The only quarry in the vicinity was the white beasts and
the paltry tribe of soft meat they had encountered earlier. He reached for and
activated the scanner in an attempt to locate his missing comrade. As the screen
flickered into life, a string of text scrolled across the centre of the screen
advising that a proximity search had not yet been closed down. Tra’Bir activated
the current search hoping to see Bok’Tof’s location. Instead he was greeted with
an entity identification screen advising the existence of another life form in
close proximity to the craft. A Type 5 had been located near the soft meat
compound. Tra’Bir closely regarded the details of the creature classification.
He hoped that the scanner was mistaken. “Ramnah, Access the information system
and locate known type 5 species. I fear that Bok’Tof is in trouble.”
taxied from the landing strip and toward the arrivals section. As it came to a
stop Lewis stood and pulled his bag from the overhead locker. He wearily made
his way down the aircraft steps and boarded the shuttle bus to the terminal. As
the bus drew closer to the terminal he could see her, she had come to meet him
regardless of being heavily pregnant; she had come. He fought down the lump in
his throat and leapt from the bus. He ran towards her outstretched arms and was
within an inch of embracing her when the lights in the terminal faded to a deep
crimson hue. Everyone disappeared, leaving Lewis alone in the terminal. A
heartbeat thumped hard in his ears as he wandered the deserted corridors. Just
then he spotted her; she now sat at the end of a row of seats cradling a child.
Lewis started to run toward her “We need to go! It’s not safe here! Something’s
not right!” His wife looked up at him with terror on her face then disappeared
leaving the tightly wrapped babe in Lewis’ arms. He looked down at the sleeping
infant and pulled away the sheet to view its face. Everything around him went
pitch black as the baby disappeared. Just then he could feel something behind
him. He slowly turned only to face the three deep red, hate filled eyes as they
darted toward him with a primal screech.
Lewis woke with a start. This had been the third nightmare that night. Each one
had involved that monstrosity in the ice. He swung his legs over the bed and sat
up, cradling his head in his hands and sobbing quietly. Opposite him, Sverre
woke with a start. He sat bolt upright in bed.
wha? Gah! Ah. Lewis.” Sverre clutched at his chest, “I just had the weirdest
have anything to do with that imp thing in the ice?”
face had drained of colour, “Yes. The damn thing has gotten into my head.”
stumbled to his feet and struggled with his pants, “Come on. Let’s grab a
coffee. I think we’ve both slept enough”
entered the recreation room they noted that everyone else was also fully awake
and sat around on the large couches that adorned the room. Kristanna twisted
round to face the newcomers. “Hey, welcome to insomniacs anonymous.”
grabbed the coffee pot, poured one for Sverre and one for himself, “You guys not
been to bed yet?”
rubbed his face anxiously, “Course we have. It seems we are all being plagued by
“Involving our little ice-bound friend?” Lewis raised an eyebrow.
rose from her seat, her expression grim; “I don’t think the nightmares are a
coincidence. Sure the damn thing is spooky looking but I hardly ever remember my
dreams this vividly. So far, with what I can gather from all the dreams we’ve
discussed, the little bastard is doing the same thing in each and every one.
Scaring us away.”
thought back to his dream. “Mine had my wife and I guess my unborn baby in it.”
“Everyone’s seemed to include someone they care about and ended with ol’ three
eyes grabbing them. I suspect that somehow our little friend is communicating
fidgeted, clearly agitated; “It’s frozen, it can’t do anything to us if its
frozen” he mocked, “I’m for burning it right now. Before it does more creepy
shit.” He looked around sheepishly, “Where’s Baldur? Surely he can’t be sleeping
through this?” He shakily made his way to the door leading to Baldur’s bunk and
gently pushed it open. As he leaned in slowly a dark figure burst out of the
darkness and shot between his legs, “Akira! Damn it! This stupid dogs gonna be
the death of me.”
padded into the recreation room, sat alongside Martinez and gently nudged his
hand with her nose.
turned to peer back into the room as Baldur staggered to the doorway scratching
his head and yawning, “What on earth is going on in here? It’s enough to wake
let out a laugh “You know how his mind works; he probably thought they were wet
dreams. Compared to his usual.”
placed his coffee cup down onto the table, “Well, if I’m awake I might as well
take a look at the radio situation. We have GPRS but I couldn’t get the second
server set up so I don’t know how long we have it. I’ll hail a few frequencies
on the old radio system. Y’know, test the waters.”
refilled his coffee, “Sure thing, I’ll be in with you in a while. Can you do me
a favour and stick that dog in the cages on the way past?”
tapped his thigh and Akira reluctantly padded along after him. She lay still in
the shadows as he fastened the padlock on the cage door. “Sorry girl. You’ve got
to stay in here for now. I’ll smuggle you some goodies in as soon as I can.” He
gave the dog a childish wave and headed off into the server room. Moments later,
Pollard entered the server room nursing a cup of coffee, “Hey, how’s the signal
turned to face him without looking away from the meter, “Not good, atmospherics
would indicate another twelve hours or so before the blizzard is gone. We’re
running solo ‘till then”
kicked the door with his heel. “So we’re stuck in this cabin fever shit for a
while longer. Damn!”
pointless both of us being stuck out here, take a bottle of Sverre’s happy-time
elixir and wipe out on one of the couches for a while” Lewis pulled a bottle of
clear liquid from his desk drawer and handed it to Pollard, “You can drop a few
titbits off for Akira too. Might cheer her up a bit”
thanks. Might get shit faced enough to stay out of it until help arrives.”
Pollard grabbed a handful of dog chocolates and headed out of the server room.
As he drew closer to the cage containing Akira, Pollard wrestled with his pocket
in an attempt to free his torch. In the scuffle he managed to drop his bottle
and cursed as it smashed against the hard concrete floor. As he levelled with
the cages, he noticed the slumbering shape of Akira in the corner. He started to
poke the chocolate through the gaps in the wire. “Come on you little fur ball,
eat your chocolate.” He shone the torch over her head in an attempt to attract
her attention. “What’s wrong with you?” Pollard flipped open the padlock and
entered the dog’s cage. Akira was lying on her side and panting heavily. Pollard
dropped to his knees and ran his hand along the dog’s chest. Her heart rate was
normal, her nose was wet. Pollard turned to face the surveillance camera and
yelled “Baldur! We need assistance in the kennels. Akira’s sick.”
the dog started to yelp and kick out with her hind legs in an attempt to stand.
Pollard held her tightly and made shushing noises in an attempt to calm her
down. Finally, the yelping stopped. For a moment the dog lay motionless in
Pollard’s arms. He gently laid her onto the floor and started to rise to his
feet to get help. He froze in horror as the silent stricken animal began to
convulse violently on the floor, he ran toward the cage door to find the much
needed assistance but found that the padlock had jammed closed with all the
excitement. He turned and walked toward the viciously shaking body of Akira. A
hissing sound emanated from within as several tentacles tore through her thick
fur and swung back and forth around the room as if performing some perverted
mating ritual. “What the fuck?” Pollard backed up against the cage door as the
dog’s chest burst open and the beast raised up using its innards as a form of
plinth. Its head turned to face Pollard and its neck began to stretch causing
the head to draw ever closer to him. “Lewis! Anyone! Get me the fuck out of
here!” He shook the gate violently in an attempt to jolt it free and make his
escape. He turned back to face the former-dog-creature only to find it mere
inches from his face. Its head messily split in two sections and peeled pack to
reveal a circular appendage that resembled a flower with teeth. The flesh flower
shot forth and wrapped around Pollard’s head and pulled him closer to the
creature. His screams became fainter and he slowly began to struggle less as the
tentacles wrapped around him and pulled him ever closer.
lazily flicked through the camera screens and spat coffee out at the sight
greeting him from within the Kennels. “Oh Shit!” He punched the intercom button,
“We need the flamer up here now! There’s something in the Kennels! Looks like
its got Pollard!” Lewis flung the door open and sprinted to the kennel cage. By
the time he had arrived, Sverre, Baldur and Kristanna were already there and
struggling with the cage door.
pulled at the padlock, “It’s jammed!”
pulled the fire axe from the wall and swung it at the lock with immense gusto
causing metal shards and sparks to fly to the floor. In an instant the cage door
swung open. Kristanna pulled at Pollard’s legs as Sverre unleashed a tongue of
flame toward the mutated dog creature. The air filled with acrid smoke as the
beast screeched and fell to the ground in a smouldering heap. As a further burst
from the flamethrower engulfed it, the creature released its grip on Pollard.
leant over the twitching figure, “He’s breathing. Just” Pollard’s face was
unrecognisable, his features mangled, his mouth opening wide and then snapping
shut as he made sickening glurping sounds. Kristanna jumped to her feet and spun
to face the others, “He needs help, get him to the lab quick!”
and Lewis lifted Pollard and carried him to the med lab area as Sverre doused
the pulsing remains of the dog in flames until all that remained was charred
9: Chapter 9
Nine – The Balance of Power
looking good for Pollard; Kristanna had attached heart rate monitors to his
torso and as yet they had failed to pick up a single beat. He had begun to make
louder glurping sounds as he appeared to be gasping for breath.
no pulse! What’s keeping him alive?” Kristanna yelled to the others as they held
his struggling form to the table. She looked into the mangled wreckage of his
face and peered into his remaining eye, there was no recognition there, no sign
of humanity. This was his body but it was not Pollard. “There are no
intellectual responses. I think he’s dead, maybe some sort of toxic substance
from that… Whatever it was is just causing his body to spasm. Sverre, could
nodded solemnly, “You might want to turn away for this”. Kristanna looked away
as Sverre pulled his large revolver out of his jacket and fired a single shot
into Pollard’s head. His convulsions and glurping ceased immediately and he lay
there motionless on the table.
man” Lewis bowed his head and mentally offered a prayer. It had been a while
since he had last prayed but he felt now would be as good a time as any. Once he
had finished he turned to Sverre. “Shall we bag him up?”
raised her hand shakily, “Not yet; It might be worth performing an autopsy.
There might be a clue as to what we’re dealing with.”
slumped down onto the other table, “I was in there just five minutes before
Pollard. There was nothing in there except Akira? Was that thing our dog?”
rubbed his eyes with a hand, “Some of the parts I found suggest a dog. The
markings on the fur that remained on it would suggest it was Akira but there
were skull fragments that looked more like bear than dog. It was such a mess
down there…” Sverre stopped speaking suddenly, “D’you hear that?”
dripping sound was coming from the table containing Pollard. They glanced over
the body to locate the source of the sound. Kristanna beckoned the others to the
remains of his head, “Its blood from the bullet wound. It’s ok.” She picked up a
large clump of surgical gauze and proceeded to stuff it into the gaping hole in
Pollard’s head. As she pushed it inside with a gloved finger an inhuman scream
emanated from Pollard’s chest. Kristanna pulled her finger back in time to see a
row of razor sharp teeth slam closed in the top of Pollard’s head narrowly
missing her fingertip. Sverre pulled out his revolver again and emptied it into
the head and face of the creature as it slowly began to sit upright. Its back
tore apart to reveal two large claws that extended out from within and reached
for the ceiling, its spine swinging back and forth like a demonic tongue.
stuffed his gun back into his jacket, “Bullets do nothing! Torch it!” Martinez
stood frozen staring at the beast as its claws tore into the ceiling in an
attempt to escape. Sverre screamed even louder, “Martinez! Torch it! Now!”
yanked the flame thrower away from Martinez and blasted the beast with red hot
flames. It roared and dropped down below the table. Kristanna grabbed a bottle
of ethanol from the cupboard, placed a rag inside and lit the end before
throwing it onto the convulsing mass of flesh at her feet. The makeshift Molotov
cocktail erupted on contact engulfing the screeching beast. Finally the creature
let out a sigh and struggled no more. The charred remains looking no longer like
Pollard. No longer human.
eyeballed Sverre frantically, “The one in the Kennel. You sure it’s dead?”
toast. Couldn’t be deader”
can you bring it in here? I want to check something.”
stood at the brow of the ice hill overlooking the human outpost. From his
vantage point he could see into the large lab windows. The cold wind was beating
against his skin but he felt nothing but the thrill of witnessing the battle
below. Identifying the changelings within the camp would be difficult without
the enhanced technology from his home world. He would have to watch and wait
until they revealed themselves to attempt assimilation. As the humans perished;
the creature would become bolder. It would currently not reveal its true nature
unless it was either certain of successful assimilation or under an immediate
threat. Bok’Tof was certain that when it revealed itself again; he would be
and Ramnah hurriedly armed themselves with their spears and plasmacasters. They
had to act fast if they were to ensure the safe retrieval of Bok’Tof. The Entity
Classification of Type 5 was reserved for the most vicious and despicable beings
known to the Yautja. Any beings belonging to Type 5 had historically been a
threat to the very existence of the Yautja. Even the Kainde Amedha ranked as
only a Type 3. It was forbidden by clan law to even attempt to hunt a Type 5.
Although Tra’bir no longer had love for his Clan’s rules; he could not allow a
fellow Yautja to walk into certain doom. “Ramnah, you have seen the historical
records on this being. You understand why it cannot be allowed to live. Our
first priority is to retrieve Bok’Tof and regroup to formulate a plan.”
wristblade glistened as he extended it in anticipation of the forthcoming
battle. He turned to Tra’Bir and simply nodded. Nothing more needed to be said
as the duo burst into a sprint toward the outpost.
smouldering heaps of burnt flesh sat precariously on the examination tables of
the lab like side attractions at a ghoulish freak show. Bones, tendons and
appendages jutted from the masses adding to the macabre spectacle. Kristanna;
now wearing coveralls and a surgical mask; carefully examined the shapeless form
that was formerly Pollard. The others sat around the lab watching with disgust
and fascination in equal measures. She skilfully wielded her scalpel as she
sliced into the flesh where she suspected the heart and lungs might have been.
The burnt flesh separated with ease and soon the blackened innards were on
display. She deftly plunged her hand inside and pulled out a thick red ball of
Enlarged. Mucous covered suggesting that some early onset infection was in
hurried to the waste bin and promptly vomited. Sverre snorted his approval;
clearly welcoming the distraction from the current dire situation they all
faced. Lewis turned to Kristanna with a look of sheer disgust, “Can we be a
little less descriptive?”
looked at him blankly and finally delved back into the mangled carcass. “Hmm,
pieces of dog skull. Must have happened during the struggle… What the hell is
this?” Carefully she grasped at an unseen mass in the centre of the chest cavity
and with a groan of exertion she pulled it slowly clear of the body. It was a
thick fleshy sack. Its pink opacity concealed its contents from view. Gently,
Kristanna made an incision along the perceived top of the container and prised
open the two parts. She jumped back in revulsion as an appendage limply fell
through the newly created opening and flopped to the table. It was a miniature
that?” Lewis exclaimed in horror. “It looks like two halves of a different head
doused the head with water, cleaning off the mucous and blood that obscured
their view. “Its looks like a hybrid of some form. Maybe partly digested by the
monster and has fused together from the heat. The structure indicates that it
is. What? Look at this part! This is the jawline and upper neck of a polar bear
but it looks… Incomplete.” As she turned the head to better see the remaining
part she jumped back in fright. “No. What the hell is going on here?” The second
part of the head was unmistakeably human. It was unmistakeably recognisable by
those who witnessed it either being pulled from the ice or escaping from the
compound just the night before. The second part of the head was formerly known
quickly bore down onto the mutilated corpse of Akira and tore its outer skin
open; anxiously looking for an answer. Ribs and muscle tissue landed on the
floor with a sickening squelch as she pulled at the insides. Finally she
stopped. Her hand was resting on something spongy but firm to the touch.
Gingerly she pulled at it; at first it resisted but after a moist tearing sound
it finally began to move. As it left the gaping wound in the dog, Kristanna let
it drop to the floor. It was a human arm.
knelt over the arm, “Another victim? Clearly Caucasian although muscular and
quite tanned so not belonging to Childs, Pollard was a slight man with freckled
skin so it was unlikely to be his. Besides, prior to him turning inside out on
the table, all his extremities were accounted for. Unless.” Kristanna stood over
the mass of dog flesh and manipulated the burnt flower of flesh, carefully
forcing it closed. It was an entire dog’s head. She briskly walked to the
approached her cautiously, “Unless?”
replied without taking her eyes from the screen, “Unless I’m on the wrong train
of thought. What if these parts aren’t taken from the victims?”
looked confused, “Sorry, you’ve lost me.”
eyed him suspiciously, “That might be true.” Without warning she ran to the
surgical trolley and grabbed the cleaver.
jumped to his feet, “Krissy, what the fuck?”
the cleaver at each of the others slowly. “Body snatchers.”
shook his head laughing “She’s flipped. That’s it. We’re fucked. We either die
by armoured beasts, alien blobs or this psycho bitch”
waved his hand frantically at Martinez, then at Kristanna “Martinez, shut the
fuck up! Krissy, body snatchers; what do you mean?”
back against the wall. The pressure of the situation was telling. Her
countenance was one of desperation. “Isn’t it obvious? These aren’t bits it has
eaten. These are bits it is storing or growing; stealing body mass from its
victims. The only reason such a creature would want to make copies would be to
imitate. You have all been alone with that dog to a certain degree. That male
arm might be part of any of you.”
I’m not one of those, things. I sounded the alarm when Pollard was attacked,
remember? Sverre shot and torched them.”
separate creature may be a completely new life form, only out for number one. If
keeping quiet or even attacking another of its kind aids its survival, why
stepped forward, “Hey, you were in here with Navarro. You were both left alone
with that body. What’s to say it didn’t grab you?”
gazed defiantly at him, “You can’t know for certain. The only suggestion I can
offer is that it is a fairly peaceable being, favouring slow quiet takeover
rather than forceful attacks. The times it has ‘burst out’ in front of a group
it has mounted an escape attempt.”
nodded in agreement, “That sounds likely, it will know how many people it has
taken over and would wait until the balance of power was in its favour. Better
for three to overpower one than a single creature reveal itself to an alert and
possibly armed crowd and risk being killed. I’m guessing that those who are
taken over will know that they are. In which case I know I’m me. So if there is
another one, its more than likely in this room pretending to be one of the
say; I don’t know who I can trust and until I do; you can all keep the fuck away
10: Chapter 10
Ten – The Test
lab was alive with electronic sounds and the steady flashing of instruments as
Kristanna performed barrage after barrage of tests on the burned remains of the
creatures. Her determined expression unfazed as reams of results scrolled across
the lab computer’s screen. She sat and examined the data output. A flash of
realisation appeared in her eyes as she excitedly strode to the remains of
Pollard. She inserted a syringe into the carcass and extracted some of the
not-yet congealed blood. Carefully she placed a small sample onto a glass plate
and placed it under the microscope.
activity. You’re not completely dead, are you?” Kristanna placed the remainder
of the blood into a Petri dish and activated a small blowtorch. “Let’s see how
you react to this.” As the flames touched the surface of the blood an almighty
screech emanated from the Petri dish as the now clumped blood leapt to the floor
and slid under the desk. “Cellular individuality. Each cell is a separate living
entity.” She grabbed the blowtorch and doused the blood-creature until none
remained. Excitedly she ran to the intercom and pushed the button, “Can everyone
meet me in the holding area? I think I’m onto something.”
excitement raised in Bok’Tof’s chest. He could sense that combat was imminent.
The Female soft meat was clever. She had used her primitive human reasoning and
had found a way to identify the Changelings. When they hear of the potential
risk they would be certain to attempt to silence her. And he would be waiting.
He entered the perimeter of the complex and set up a vantage point close to
where the soft meat was congregated. It was only a matter of time before his
fellow Yautja found him, he had to ensure that he could neutralise his quarry
before they arrived.
holding area was a small concrete corridor situated under the main complex
itself. At one end sat the main generator and at the other an entrance into the
complex. Two large sturdy doors sat halfway. These were holding cells for
detaining perpetrators of violent crimes. It was commonplace for researchers to
suffer from cabin fever due to the isolation that working in the camp required.
walked the stone steps into the corridor; flamethrower at her side. The others
were already there. “Okay, are any of you armed? If so, toss whatever you have
to the floor. It’s only temporary.” The others exchanged glances and finally
stared back at Kristanna. “I’ll make it simple; toss whatever you have or you
burn. I’m pretty certain at least one of you isn’t who you say you are.”
dropped his pistol to the floor.
dropped his fire axe and raised his hands “What’s this about Krissy?”
gestured to the large doors, “Everyone inside; two to a room. Then I’ll explain”
Reluctantly, the group entered the tiny holding cells and the doors slammed
closed behind them; the freezing stale air inside causing them to wretch as they
inhaled it. The cells were designed for single detainees and were only three
meters by two meters. Lewis and Baldur were contained in one cell, Martinez and
Sverre in the other. Kristanna slid two Petri dishes under each door; “My
research has uncovered a lot about what we’re dealing with. This creature
operates at a living cellular level. It digests the cells of those it attacks
and creates a perfect replica which then splits away from the original. I
watched it happening through the microscope. Each individual cell is capable of
functioning independently, when it detaches from the original it becomes a
separate entity capable of independent thought and action. Complete assimilation
could take only twenty minutes; a single cell introduced to a host would be a
guaranteed assimilation but may take longer.” She slides scalpels under the
doors, “I want you to pick up the dish with your name on and use the scalpel to
obtain a blood sample then pass it back under the door.”
looked over the scalpel, “What will this prove?”
blood is just tissue but anything discharged from these things is something else
completely. If my theory is correct, once the blood is separated from the
original being, it will be a new life form that the original cannot control.
It’s not going to sit there in the dish while I try to harm it.”
pushed Martinez aside and ran at the door kicking it violently, “This is
bullshit! I’m not slicing myself open. You’re crazy!”
stepped back from the door, “I think we’d better do you first Sverre. Sooner you
do it the sooner you can leave. Just a scratch on your thumb should be
cursed in Norwegian and picked up the scalpel. He winced as he ran it across his
thumb. The sharp blade dug deep into his skin and was followed by a trail of
crimson that slowly dripped into the Petri Dish marked “Sverre”. He sucked on
his wounded thumb and pushed the dish under the door with his foot, “There.
Happy?” he asked sarcastically while raising his middle finger.
picked up the dish and unclipped the laser scalpel from her jacket pocket. She
set it to the lowest output and circled the red hot beam around the dish. The
resultant steam and slight hissing sound heralding a look of relief on the faces
of both Sverre and Kristanna. “Ok, you can come out.” She slid the bolt from
across the door and Sverre pushed it open. As he stepped through into the
corridor, Martinez shoved Sverre aside and sprinted up the corridor toward the
complex. Kristanna spun to face him, “Stop him!”
sprinted to his pistol and snatched it up, bringing it to bear in the direction
of Martinez just as he disappeared round the doorway. The main door slammed shut
and the locking mechanism could be heard to engage. “Shit, we’re stuck in here!”
He turned to Kristanna, “what now?”
ran her fingers through her hair and closed her eyes. After a long sigh she
finally replied “We carry on with the tests, once we know who’s on our side, we
can look for Martinez”
gripped the bars on the cell door and arched his neck to look at Sverre, “She
needs to do the test before I even consider it.”
nodded curtly, “You’re right, I’m under just as much suspicion as you all are.”
She pulled a third scalpel from her jacket and sliced through her own thumb. The
blood dripped into the Petri dish originally intended for Martinez. As the laser
scalpel circled the sample, a faint hiss could be heard. “I’m clear”
kicked the door, “I think we’re wasting our time here. This test isn’t proving
ignored his gripes and walked to the door of the cell containing him and Baldur,
“Baldur, you next.”
sighed. “Is there no other way?”
stepped closer to the doorway, “It’s all we’ve got for now.”
leaned toward the cell door, “Come on you sissy. It’s only a little prick; like
used the scalpel to slice deep into his thumb; the blood flowed evenly into the
Petri dish bearing his name. He thoughtfully placed it onto the floor and shoved
it under the door.
picked up the laser scalpel and activated it. The red beam flickered into life
for a split second then faded out. “Damn. It’s out of charge.”
rapped on the cell door, “One of you go to the generator cage. I always leave a
set of screwdrivers in there in case I need to fix the backup power supplies for
the servers. They’re metal and sturdy enough to be heated by the flame thrower.
I always to do it when I cant find my soldering iron.”
gave Sverre the flame thrower and headed off to the generator room. Sverre
leaned against the locked cell door. “Looks cosy in there.”
returned with a thin but sturdy looking screwdriver with a rubber handle,
“Right, let’s carry on.” Baldur closed his eyes and bowed his head.
held the screwdriver in front of the nozzle of the flame thrower until the tip
was glowing red; he took the dish from Kristanna and held it under the
screwdriver, “Time to clear your name”
screwdriver tip barely made contact with the blood lining the dish when high
pitched squeal came from within. The blood pulsated and quickly formed into a
pulped mass before crashing to the ground. Sverre fired the flamethrower at the
blood mass instantly incinerating it leaving no trace of its existence. Within
the cell, Baldur sat motionless; his eyes still closed and his head still
solemnly bowed. Suddenly his body erupted into violent convulsions. Lewis tugged
at the door and slammed his fists repeatedly against it, “Get me the fuck out of
and Kristanna fumbled with the bolt on the cell door. It had not been used for a
significant length of time and had all but seized. Inside the cell; Baldur was
starting to reveal his true form. His torso split open from his abdomen to his
throat. His mouth started to stretch as though beginning a yawn that would last
for eternity. Lewis attempted to put as much distance as possible between
himself and the creature, the intimacy of the cell allowed only a few inches.
kicked at the bolt on the door in a vain attempt to loosen it, “Open! Open!”
stared in horror as an exact replica of Akira’s head emerged from the gaping
chasm of Baldur’s torso, his innards flailing and cracking against the walls
like whips. Without warning, the Baldur-thing leapt toward Lewis sending him
backwards into the wall. The jaws of the dog head snapping mere inches away from
his throat. Lewis twisted and dragged himself from underneath the imposing,
pulsating figure and crawled toward the cell door in time to see it swing open
and Sverre point the flamethrower towards the creature. Lewis rolled out of the
cell and struggled to his feet “Sverre, torch it!”
stood staring at the immense creature that now almost filled the room; its neck
had now torn loose from the rest of the body causing the head to loll
sickeningly back and forth. The head was still Baldur, his kid brother. How
could he possibly kill his brother? Thoughts quickly flooded his mind; maybe
they could change him back. Maybe they could save him. He slowly started to
lower the flamethrower. He quickly raised it again as the creature sent its
grotesque tentacles toward the door. They gripped the doorframe and the beast
started to advance toward Sverre. As he aimed the flamethrower into the room he
could feel tears welling in his eyes. The dog head snapped forward toward Sverre
and he instinctively fired the flamethrower into the room engulfing the monster
in flames. As the beast squealed and writhed in agony he continued the barrage
of fire until it lay motionless. Finally he looked upon the lifeless, twisted
face of Baldur and with a broken voice he whispered "Adjø meg bror."
11: Chapter 11
11 – Manhunt
looked over his shoulder for the final time before heading into the med lab. He
made straight for the freezers and promptly opened the one containing the
creature trapped in the rapidly thawing ice block. He watched for a moment as
water dripped onto the floor before finally sprinting out of the lab and into
the main corridor.
Sverre and Kristanna stared at the seared corpse of Baldur in disbelief. Lewis
stepped closer to the cell and peered inside. “Sverre, man. I’m so sorry.”
looked away “I know.” He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. “If there are
any more of those fuckers out there. I’ll make them pay.”
put her hand across Sverre’s chest, “We’ve not tested him yet. We can’t even
think about leaving.” she could feel her grip tightening on the scalpel in her
picked up the scalpel and roughly sliced across his palm, as he clenched his
fist blood began to pour out onto the floor. Without making a single comment he
then placed the scalpel in front of the flamethrower’s tip and slowly twisted it
ensuring it heated evenly. Once it started to glow red he dropped it into the
puddle of blood resulting in a slight hiss and nothing more. “There; I think
we’ve established that I am human. Something I thought you’d have realised when
that thing in there tried to FUCKING EAT ME!”
pulled a fire axe from the wall of the recreation area and ran into the server
room. With great exertion he swung it at the cabinets of rack mount servers,
sending sparks flying and smoke billowing into the room. He stalked over to
Lewis’ desk and stood over the server sat in the middle. The screen flickered
into life. A progress bar moved from 99 percent to 100. A dialog box filled the
ARRAY REBUILD COMPLETE.
swung the axe down onto the server causing it to crack neatly in two; the
resultant force of the blow causing the desk to buckle and split. He turned to
face the door to the radio room and paced purposefully toward it.
had been watching the soft meat closely. The one who seemed to want to distance
himself from the others was now systematically destroying key installations in
its own compound. He decided that this action deserved a closer look. It was
time to hunt.
winced as Kristanna bandaged his palm with strips of cloth torn from his shirt.
“There. You need to try and keep it clean. You’re lucky the blade didn’t cut any
deeper. You were a hair’s width away from bleeding to death.”
tried to clench his fist. It was sore and it felt stiff but the bleeding had
stopped. “Feels better, thanks. I’ve been thinking; the generator cage has a
cable vent running into the store room. There’s a box for the breakers in there.
It’ll be a squeeze but I think we could all get through.”
wielded the flamethrower and stared into the cell containing the burnt remains
of the creature. “Son of a bitch is going to pay.”
walked to him and placed her hand gently upon his shoulder; “Sverre, we need to
climbed on top of the generator and Lewis deftly unscrewed the cowl covering the
cable vent. Once it had become loose, he yanked it from its housing and they
climbed up into the storage room. Kristanna dusted herself off and turned to the
others, “We need to find Martinez. He needs to do the test. I know he ran but he
may have just lost it. We need to find out.”
opened the door leading form the storage room into the main corridors they heard
an immense crash from behind them. Lewis spun, “The radio room!” The three ran
into the server area only to see Martinez running out of the door at the far
end. The room had been ransacked; the radio equipment had been smashed to pieces
and all connections leading to the uplink dish had been completely severed.
ran back into the corridor, “We’ll lock this door and head him off through the
rec room.” They sprinted through the corridor into the recreation area.
stood by the main window and raised his axe over his head, “Back away. I-I don’t
know who to trust. You might all be those things.”
raised the flame thrower, “You’ve cut us off. The radios are beyond repair.
We’re screwed thanks to you.” He glanced over to Kristanna, “no need to bother
with the test. He won’t be living long enough.”
stepped in between Sverre and Martinez, “Sverre! Don’t! He might be suffering
some form of breakdown! You don’t have the right to…”
leapt forward and pulled the axe handle across Kristanna’s throat. “Back away or
I break her pretty little neck.”
raised his hands defensively, “Martinez. Put down the axe, you don’t want to do
this. We’ve all tested clean. We’re all ok.”
all ok? We’re all ok! Nothing’s ok! We’re fucked! I’m not taking any test! You
might do something to me. It might be a trap.” Kristanna slowly dipped her hand
inside her pocket and felt the firm handle of Lewis’ screwdriver. Gently she
pulled it free from her pocket and with all her strength, plunged it into
Martinez’s thigh. The shock of the screwdriver penetrating his leg was enough
for him to momentarily release his grip on Kristanna, who pulled herself away
and ran behind Sverre.
pulled the screwdriver from his thigh leaving a gaping wound; his countenance
was ablaze with rage. He made a leap toward the now terrified Kristanna but was
impeded by Lewis who swung a haymaker punch into the side of his head. Martinez
was sent crashing to the floor; his head smashed into the corner of the table as
he fell. He lay there motionless; the impact with the table had caused
significant damage to his head.
poked him with his boot, “I think he’s dead.”
crouched beside the body, “Nobody could have survived after hitting his head so
hard against a steel table. I’ll get a trolley so we can move him.” He backed
out of the room and headed out toward the medical area, as he turned the corner
into the cylindrical med lab area, his progress was halted by a large figure. It
slowly advanced on him, its face masked by a metallic mask. Long strands flowed
from its head resembling dreadlocks. Lewis recognised it as one of the creatures
Kristanna had previously eluded. He backed away slowly, “What do you want? Oh
shit, help!!” The creature continued advancing. Sverre and Kristanna ran toward
Lewis’ voice as fast as their legs could carry them.
the room, the now unaccompanied body of Martinez started to move.
and Kristanna reached the corner the same time Lewis and the large armoured
creature did. Kristanna screamed and the three ran back into the recreation area
and slammed the door shut, locking it as they did.
was clearly terrified, “They’ve come back! They killed Navarro and now they’ve
come back for us!”
banging came from the corridor as the creature pounded at the door in an attempt
to gain entry. Kristanna, Sverre and Lewis backed away slowly, not taking their
eyes from the doorway for a moment. Lewis glanced toward Kristanna. “We could
hole ourselves in here for a while, they might leave again. We could make good
our escape. There’s room in the chopper for three of us.”
reasoning was cut short by a thick growl coming from behind the three of them.
He was afraid to turn; afraid to see what was behind them. Slowly he turned his
head and came face to face with a nightmarish vision. Perched upon the table
that had only too recently seemingly ended the Life of Dominic Martinez was a
grotesque figure, its legs bulging, its feet more resembling talons. The flesh
that previously covered its torso now torn away was revealing a large carapace
with rib-like protrusions jutting out to the side. Its jaw split in two, the
tongue long and sharp. Slowly and keenly it surveyed the three remaining humans;
the rage still red as fire in its sunken misshapen eyes.
started to back away from this new threat. He glanced across to the others,
increased the fuel flow to his flame thrower, “Payback.” He pulled the trigger
and a single ball of flame spat out of the barrel. “Come on!” The flame again
sputtered out of the end of the thrower and finally the pilot light
extinguished. “No! Shit! I’m out”
glanced over to Sverre, “I’ll draw its attention. You take Krissy and run for
all you’re worth.”
leaving you.” Sverre dropped the flame thrower to the floor.
awaited the inevitable the door burst open and the large armoured creature
filled the doorway.
searched the wasteland of ice looking for a sign of Bok’Tof. They were now only
a few miles away from the soft meat encampment. Ramnah appeared through the
mists of ice and stood next to Tra’Bir, “There is no sign of him yet. Any tracks
are being covered by the winds. I did pick up the scent of Yautja heading toward
the soft meat earlier but it seems to have disappeared now.”
thought for a moment; “We have no option but to engage the soft meat again. Our
brother must be there. We must find him and quickly.”
stood staring at the immense figure of the changeling that dominated the room.
Feelings of fear and excitement filled him. The three remaining soft meat stood
and stared at both the changeling and at him. The changeling stared only at him.
Bok’Tof stepped aside from the door and tilted his head gesturing the soft meat
to leave. They ran past him cautiously and sprinted off down the corridor. Now
they were alone. Now the fight could begin.
extended his wristblade and gave an ear splitting roar in preparation. The
changeling dropped from the table onto the floor and let out a roar of its own.
Deep in its cellular stored memories, the thing recognised this creature. Many
aeons ago; this creature that now faced it as an assumed equal was once a
pathetic hut dwelling life form. Their technology was non-existent; their values
of honour and their strength were minimal. Now this being was not only prepared
to fight, it wanted to.
quickly advanced on the creature with his spear extended; it pierced the
carapace covered abdomen of the Thing and burst through its back. He quickly
retracted the spear and set up for another lunge. The creature anticipated this
attack and leant away from the blow causing it to glance off its reinforced
torso. It extended a taloned hand and hit Bok’Tof hard in the face causing his
visor to shatter and causing him to be thrown to the other end of the room.
Bok’Tof sprung to his feet and discarded the now useless visor. He extended his
mandibles and roared in fury as he again charged toward the Thing slashing
wildly with his wristblade. The first swing sliced cleanly into the throat of
the creature sending sinew spattering across the floor. A second slash causing
the head to hang limply from a small strand of flesh. The ribs of the creature
swiftly and violently extended causing Bok’Tof to leap away from their attack.
He skilfully aimed his plasmacaster and fired it into the upper chest of the now
livid creature. The plasma bolt impacted causing the head to be fully
decapitated and sending it rolling under the table.
Tra’Bir and Ramnah approached the camp they were alerted to the presence of
Bok’Tof by the flashes of plasma fire emanating from the furthest away wing of
the complex. They broke into a sprint and headed toward the source of the
battle was a true clash of the Titans; neither side tiring, neither side willing
to give an inch. Blades swung and claws gouged. Roars of fury and hate filled
the room with every blow. Bok’Tof lunged again with his spear gripped in both
hands, the tip of the spear tearing down into the gaping neck of the creature. A
set of teeth closed around the spear holding it firm and preventing Bok’Tof from
extracting it. From the chest of the thing came a sickening tearing sound as the
disfigured head of a polar bear slowly protruded from within. Bok’Tof roared and
charged again, mandibles flared; his eyes filled with determination. He lunged
toward the creature and dug his wristblade deep into its chest cavity. With a
ghastly roar the thing’s chest ripped opened further swallowing Bok’Tof’s hand
up to his forearm; the ribs slamming closed severing it with little effort. The
tentacle like innards swarmed from within the abdomen of the beast. Slowly they
began to wrap around his legs. He roared with contempt as he was slowly pulled
into the chest cavity.
Burst through the recreation room window and impaled the beast with his own
spear. He was closely followed by the spinning figure of Ramnah who thrust his
spear between his legs as he landed on the back of the creature tearing it in
half. Tra’Bir quickly ran to the aid of Bok’Tof who was prone on the floor in
front of the now insanely furious creature. Although he was severely wounded,
Tra’Bir could see responses from him. His mind flashed back to the battle field,
his comrade lay bleeding, his wrist computer removed when his arm was severed. A
horde of Kainde Amedha was swarming from their hive nearby and they were gaining
fast. He heard the sound of his group leader telling him to retreat and regroup.
He wasn’t prepared to let his clanmate suffer the fate that the Hard Meat had in
store for him.
shook his head to clear it of his daydream and quickly scooped up the fallen
Bok’Tof in his arms. He was fading fast and was now making deep glurping sounds;
his eyes glazed over and clouded with a milky haze. Tra’Bir turned to face
Ramnah, “Find the soft meat. We must know for certain how many are infected. I
will sterilize this area before I leave.”
nodded compliance and sprinted down the corridor toward the centre of the
complex. Tra’Bir ran at the wall sending part of it crashing away and sending
both him and the gravely injured Bok’Tof flailing to the ground. He turned to
face the room to see the changeling regrouping and mustering up for a further
attack. He threw his wrist computer into the mass of pulped flesh and fired his
plasmacaster as it landed. The resultant explosion caused a white hot ball of
flame what left nothing of the room that stood there previously.
12: Chapter 12
Twelve – A Breed Apart
Kristanna and Sverre ran to the main entrance fuelled by adrenaline and pure
fear. As they reached the doors Lewis paused. “Keys. We need the keys for the
glanced over her shoulder momentarily, “We have spares of everything in the med
lab as part of our emergency pack. I’ll grab them.”
gripped her shoulder firmly, “No, we all go.”
lab was in a state of disarray after Martinez had ransacked it earlier. The air
was thick with the stench of burnt flesh and an unidentified fetid damp smell.
The windows were thick with condensation. The group entered the lab and stepped
lightly over the shards of test tube glass and splintered metal that littered
the tiled floor. Kristanna shuffled over to the large emergency locker that
filled one side of the room and fumbled with the combination lock. The door
swung open with a groan revealing stacks of tinned food, sterilizing equipment
and assorted tools and trinkets. Without much of a search, she pulled open the
key storage box and fished out the envelope containing the helicopter keys. “Got
them. We’ll take the spare laser drill as well; we might need it.” She slid the
briefcase containing the drill out of the locker and grabbed a handful of
flares. Stuffing them into her pocket she turned to face the others.
Sverre stood by the door; they shared the same look of paralysing terror. Slowly
Lewis raised his hand and pointed at the far wall containing the banks of
freezers. Kristanna craned her neck and to her shock saw the freezer that
contained the ice-bound creature not only open but also completely empty. She
slammed the locker door shut and turned to back away towards the others. As the
locker door closed, it revealed a lone figure standing there. Its three deep red
eyes sunken and hate filled. Its head was skeletal and grey with strands of
electric blue hair writhing like neon snakes. It remained there, staring at
Kristanna with an unmatched intensity. She could feel it; it was like a wave
crashing against her mind. The sensation intensified as the creature began to
read her thoughts, her fears; her very soul. Powerless to resist, she was forced
to relive the attacks by the chameleonic alien that had assumed the identities
of her friends, the death of Navarro at the hands of the large armoured beings.
The image of the armoured creatures remained in the forefront of her thoughts
for a moment longer. Finally the creature whispered a single sound; “Yautja”. As
she battled to regain control of her own thoughts a torrent of emotion washed
over her. She was now seeing the thoughts of the alien.
landscape with a burnt orange sky, the rolling plains littered with small huts.
Campfires burnt in small enclosures as giant horned birds soared in the sky. A
single creature stalked through an area filled with trees, its wooden spear
gripped and poised to strike; it’s Mandibles flared. The sound washed over her,
that alien word: “Yautja”. This one seemed different to the ones she had
encountered, there was no armour, no visor; favouring instead a loincloth
fashioned from some form of animal skin. Its eyes seemed more humane. Something
ran through the undergrowth, attempting to escape. Without a moment’s delay, the
hunter thrust down with his spear and impaled the small creature, finally
examining it and placing it into a small animal fur satchel. The Yautja paused
for a second and looked into the burnt sienna sky in time to see a ball of flame
streaking across the heavens.
back away slowly.”
thought faded into darkness and was then replaced by the sight of a fierce
battle; the Yautja wielding spears and shields were advancing toward a horde of
blue haired creatures. They were identical to the one currently invading her
thoughts. Even though these creatures had armour and lasers, the ferocity of the
Yautja’s offensive caught them by surprise as one by one, the invaders fell to
the spears of the Yautja. In desperation, the leader of the invaders ran to the
control bridge of his ship and activated the console for their prototype weapon;
marked only as a single word: “Virus”.
wrong with her?”
memory jumped to a scene. A campfire: several of the Yautja staring at each
other. Mistrust in their eyes. One of the Yautja was dressed in black robes, he
wielded a spear. Slowly he ran the tip of the spear across the forearms of the
assembled party sending bright green blood dripping into crude wooden pots.
Finally the robed being removed a large reptile from his satchel and forced its
mouth against each pot, the reptile hissed as venom ran from its fangs into the
pots causing both the pot and the blood inside to burn away. It was acidic. The
serpent was placed against the final pot; the venom causing the blood to retreat
and coagulate, the robed being readied his spear as the Yautja holding the pot
began to convulse.
explosion. The space ship had pounded into the icy ground causing an immense
crater. The cold winds were now whipping through the control cabin deep in the
belly of the craft. The controls had obviously been sabotaged; a Yautja lay
dead, slumped across the navigation system. It had destroyed the craft’s
guidance system but had been killed in the process. The navigator backed away as
the doors slid open and two of the crew stepped inside. They were the same
species but there appeared to be an atmosphere of hostility between them. The
co-pilot reached back and picked up a sliver of metal from the buckled control
panel, with a roar he plunged it into the neck of one of the advancing
creatures. It screamed and fell to the floor and began to convulse, its clothing
and skin tearing apart as its innards flailed back and forth. The co-pilot
steeled himself and turned to run through the door from which they entered. As
he made the dash, the mutating creature lashed out and tore into his leg with a
jagged tentacle. The navigator stumbled through the door in the confusion and
punched the button to lock it down. Fear gripped as the navigator then ran to
the emergency hatch and leapt out into the icy wastes. Its very breath was
freezing in its lungs as it slowly crawled away from the downed spacecraft in
search of shelter, its body was weak, its morale depleted. Finally it reached to
the sun with its grey clawed hand as the ice claimed it. Over the centuries, the
navigator and the other creatures in the ship were encased in a prison of ice.
flash, Kristanna regained her composure and found herself back in the med lab,
the creature still staring deep into her eyes. Slowly she backed away and headed
to the others. “That thing; It just read my mind. It just showed me its own
thoughts.” She looked to Lewis with terror in her eyes, “It knew the other
creatures a long time ago.”
stood frozen, transfixed by the gaze of the dark red eyes that seemed to
penetrate him. “What does it want?”
shook her head, “From what I saw; the thing that has been killing us, this thing
hell would you make something like that?”
were invading the planet of those armoured things; I think they called them
Yautja. They were losing and unleashed it as a last resort. Didn’t figure on it
attacking them too. Looked like they tried to escape and ended up crashing here
looked over the creature as it shifted its gaze to Sverre. The deep wound in its
leg still visible. This must have been the co-pilot. “Guys, it’s been attacked
by one of those things, its probably infected. We need to get out of here, who
knows what the undiluted strain can do.”
slowly made their way to the door, the creature watched them intently, it looked
behind them and noticed the door and shifted its gaze back to them, its eyes
filled with intense rage, it’s back arched and its sharp teeth bared.
his heel into the door, swinging it open, “Run!”
ran down the corridor at an intense pace, the creature dropped to all fours and
gave chase. Slowly the creature began to get closer to them. Lewis glanced back
over his shoulder, “Its gaining. We need a distraction.”
closed his eyes and uttered a prayer in Norwegian. He knew what he had to do,
“I’ll hold it off. You guys head for the helicopter.” He skidded to a stop and
turned to face the creature.
stopped and spun to face Sverre, “No! We can make it! Come on!”
smiled and shook his head, “You leave and take Krissy with you. You’re like a
brother to me. I’ve already lost Baldur. I can’t watch another brother die.”
They grasped hands and hugged for a second until they could hear the creature
grabbed the back of Sverre’s head, “I love you man.”
laughed, “Get the fuck out of here.” As the others ran out into the main
complex, Sverre prepared himself for his final battle. The creature slowed when
it saw him and looked deep into his mind. He had lost those he loved. Only
recently had he lost his brother. Only thirty years ago he had lost both his
parents during an expedition to this very location. They had been part of a
Norwegian outpost that had perished at the hands of an unknown entity. Sverre
pulled his pistol from his jacket and aimed it, “This is for Baldur you piece of
rang out followed by a scream of pain mixed with maniacal laughter as Sverre
taunted the changeling with his final breaths. Ramnah burst down the corridor;
his mind single to finding the soft meat and ensuring the Changeling was unable
to assimilate further. Allowing this abomination to take ownership of an entire
planet was unacceptable. The two remaining soft meat beings rounded the corner
and ran toward him at a breakneck pace. He steeled himself for battle, assuming
that they had now all been assimilated. He swung his spear at their legs causing
one of them to trip. The other soft meat cried its name, “Lewis!” He extended
his wristblade and held it to the soft meat’s throat. Without warning Lewis dug
his feet into the abdomen of Ramnah and kicked as hard as he could sending the
Yautja crashing to the floor. Lewis then brought his fire axe to bear and swung
it at Ramnah’s head. The Yautja effortlessly blocked the attack with his forearm
and delivered a well aimed punch to Lewis’ face causing him to stagger back.
Ramnah seized this opportunity to leap into action, pinning Lewis and preparing
for the kill.
ran to the pinned figure of Lewis, “No! Please!” With tears in her eyes, she
stared pleadingly into Ramnah’s visor. Her imploring eyes and child-like fear
brought thoughts of his first hunt into his mind. Ramnah started to reason; he
couldn’t possibly be a changeling; he would have revealed himself by now. He
released his grip on Lewis and stood with his back to them, He was unsure of
what do to next. By keeping the soft meat alive, he was allowing the possibility
of the Changeling’s survival, If he destroyed them, he would ensure the end of
the strain but would finally be worthy of his Bad Blood status. He spun as a
roar emanated from the corridor leading to the med lab. He gave a click of
surprise as a figure rounded the corner, its deep red eyes fixed on him. The
creature slid to a halt metres away.
seemed an eternity, the two creatures stared intensely into each other’s eyes;
neither breaking the gaze. The Changeling’s face contorted into a sneer, its
bright blue strands of thick hair waving erratically. Throughout his training, a
certain spark had been missing from Ramnah; a desire for the hunt was
overshadowed by the desire to please his father. This had meant he had wavered
during his first hunt sparing his quarry simply because of the presence of its
offspring. Now the pieces of the puzzle had finally fallen into place; Ramnah
stood motionless, his composure as cold as ice, waiting for the moment to strike
with deadly force. He wasn’t simply a Yautja, he was a warrior. He was a
roar of rage the two creatures burst into a sprint meeting and clashing
together; the impact resembling a head-on train crash. Ramnah gripped the throat
of the creature as he punctured the chest of the beast with a flurry of blows
with his wristblade. He closed his first attack with an uppercut using his
wristbladed fist. The creature howled in pain as the jagged blades tore through
its jaw and protruded from the top of its skull. The beast retaliated by swiping
at his visor with its talons fully extended, causing deep scratches across the
metal but not impairing his vision. He sprinted toward the changeling and leapt
into the air placing both feet into its chest in a manoeuvre resembling a
vicious high speed drop kick. The changeling crashed to the floor and Ramnah
extended his spear as he followed, as he landed with a thump so did his spear
gouge deep into the throat of the changeling. Limbs flailing, the beast tore the
spear away and flung it across the room and then raised itself up to its hind
legs. With immense strength, the Changeling lunged toward Ramnah pinning him
against the wall. As he struggled in vain to release himself, the changeling
began to alter. Its head split clean in half revealing a set of razor sharp
teeth with a set of misshapen mandibles around the edge. Slowly it drew closer
to Ramnah’s face taunting him and savouring its perceived victory.
his opportunity. He snatched up the spear and charged at the beast yelling from
the pit of his stomach. The tip of the spear tore through the side of the
changeling and stuck in the wall when it burst through the other end. It
released its grip on Ramnah sending him falling to the floor. Lewis watched in
horror as the neck of the beast tore away causing the head to drop to the
ground. Large thin tentacles now sprung forth from the gaping neck wound,
swishing back and forth in a mesmerising but disturbing dance. With terminal
velocity the tentacles snapped toward Lewis in an attempt to knock him off
balance, he managed to dodge all but the last one that slammed into his arm and
sent him reeling into the wall.
sat dazed at the feet of the Changeling; he shook his head violently and
regained composure in time to see the tentacles make a break toward seizing him.
He rolled away and with deadly precision aimed his plasmacaster at the
changeling. He paused for a second and instead aimed for the gas pipe running
directly behind. A flash of plasma pierced the pipe and ignited the gas sending
a deadly jet of flame over the writhing mass of the Changeling until it hung
from the spear; limp and lifeless.
dusted himself off and paced toward Lewis who flinched in expectation of an
imminent death. Slowly Ramnah extended his hand and helped Lewis to his feet.
stood at the door staring in disbelief at the display of chivalry by the Yautja.
The creature that had murdered Navarro was now working with them with the same
goal in mind.
turned to leave the room, the severed head of the changeling now lurched toward
him at an astounding pace. It had grown eight spider-like legs and had clearly
become more than aware of its own need for survival. He dislodged his spear from
the wall and impaled the creature with little effort, as it struggled to escape;
Ramnah tilted his head in curiosity before turning the spear upside down and
placing it in the jet of still burning gas. He grunted in disgust as the
spider-head roasted in the flames.
left the room closely followed by Kristanna. Lewis looked around at the carnage
and spared a moment’s thought for Sverre before setting off for the door. He
winced in pain as he rolled up his sleeve, removed the section of tentacle that
was lodged in his arm and ran to catch up with the others.
13: Chapter 13
Thirteen – The Masterplan
struggled through the mists of ice; Bok’Tof laid limp and gasping in his arms.
Their vessel was so far away, the soft meat camp was even further. Tra’Bir had
no other option than to trek onward in the hope that his strength was sufficient
to carry them both to the warmth and safety of their ship. His thoughts moved to
the welfare of Ramnah; he was a competent fighter; highly proficient in the art
of hunting, but he seemed to lack the passion to kill; the thrill of the hunt.
That could be his undoing. For a moment Tra’Bir regretted leaving the young
hunter alone in the lair of the Changelings. He was drawn back into harsh
reality by the gasps and gagging of Bok’Tof; he was having difficulty breathing.
The glurping sounds were becoming as disturbing as the spasms as his body was
wracked with pain. His only apparent injuries were his lack of an arm below the
elbow and puncture wounds from the giant rib-like teeth of the Changeling. This
should not be sufficient to cause such agony to a Yautja; something else was
deserted cockpit of the damaged Yautja craft, the navigation console burst into
life. Its screens filled with complex charts and mathematical integers before
finally falling dormant. The only sign of activity in the whole craft was now
the red light that slowly and steadily blinked; illuminating portion of the
navigation panel. The label above the blinking light contained a single word:
hung in the heavens, slowly rotating in the warm glow of the Sun. A solitary
satellite angled its solar panels toward the Sun to perform its scheduled
recharge. Slowly, an imposing shadow reached over the satellite depriving it of
its much needed sunlight. The tranquil celestial scene was disrupted as an
immense space craft soared mere inches above the satellite, its engines
incinerating it as they passed close by. On the bridge of the vessel, a robed
figure stood regarding the shining blue planet below.
him, a heavily armoured Yautja entered the bridge. “Your Excellency.”
figure turned to face the source of the disturbance, “What is it?”
located the crash site.” The armoured Yautja bore the symbols of the Home World
defence force on his breastplate, he was a soldier. He handed a token containing
the co-ordinates to the robed Yautja. He was clearly uncomfortable. This
situation was unheard of; High Priests never travelled on Army ships.
all?” The High Priest flared his mandibles with impatience.
something else. They have come into contact with a type 5. Cell structure scans
show that one of the Bad Bloods has been infected along with one of the soft
meat indigenous to the planet.”
prepare for entry and imminent landing.” He turned to face the viewscreen again,
“We have very little time.” The soldier clicked in acknowledgement and left the
Bridge. The robed figure punched the co-ordinates into the navigation screen and
viewed the downed craft with eagerness. All was going to plan.
stood at the crest of the hill staring in the direction of the stricken vessel.
The soft meat were not prepared to remain in their camp, preferring to take
their chances alongside the Yautja. He was not about to argue; the form known as
Lewis had already come to his aid once in the heat of battle. It was wise
keeping them around. A deep roar came from behind him; he turned to see the
blades of the helicopter slowly rotating. Kristanna ran to Ramnah’s side,
“Come.” Ramnah tilted his head in confusion. She placed her hand in his, the
sheer size of his hand dwarfing hers. Gently she pulled him toward the
helicopter. Ramnah understood her request. She wished him to travel with her in
their primitive craft.
performed the pre-flight checks as the blades whirred faster overhead. The doors
slid open as Kristanna crawled in and sidled up alongside him. Ramnah was not
far behind; he squeezed into the back of the helicopter and appeared cramped as
Kristanna slid the doors shut. “Where are we headed?”
fiddled with the dials on the helicopter, “I’m going to try and reach
Amundsen-Scott station, it’s a trek but with any luck the wind will favour us.”
He winced with pain and clutched his arm.
wrong?” Kristanna looked worried.
I think I caught my arm during the fight. I’ll be fine. I’ve only had a few
hours training on these things so it might be bumpy. Hold on.”
helicopter uneasily levitated from the ground and swept forward; steadily
increasing altitude as it went. The icy surface blurred past below them as the
helicopter thundered along at a swift pace. As they soared over the crest of a
hill, Ramnah’s excitement raised, he nudged the back of Kristanna’s seat and
pointed down to the ground below them.
turned to face him, “I think he’s found something.” She flicked the searchlight
on and illuminated the surface. A figure could clearly be seen. It was the other
helicopter slowly lowered to the ground sending a flurry of ice into the air and
causing the mists to appear denser. Ramnah slid the door open and beckoned
Tra’Bir to enter. Tra’Bir looked to the soft meat and appeared unsure. He eyed
Ramnah suspiciously as he hauled Bok’Tof into the back of the helicopter before
climbing in himself. Ramnah leant into the cockpit and pointed to the brow of a
hill many miles away. The helicopter lifted uneasily and shakily made its way
out toward the location of the Yautja crash site.
cloaking device on the gargantuan ship engaged as it slowly entered the Earth’s
atmosphere, they were now completely undetectable by sight, as well as the soft
meat’s primitive radar and sonar installations. The High Priest sat at his desk
reviewing the notes on the three Yautja stranded on the planet. So far their
attitudes had allowed events to unfurl just as he had anticipated. He knew when
he saw them at the Yautja Council of affairs that they were ideal candidates for
perpetrating his plan. At that moment he had put in motion his scheme to
persuade the Elders to allow him to deal with their cases personally. The Elders
would never have banished a respected warrior such as Tra’Bir, not for a minor
case of insubordination and certainly not considering he had saved the life of a
member of Yautja royalty by disobeying the order. Ramnah was barely an adult;
his compassion for his quarry would have faded over time; he was only present at
the council of affairs on that day to receive conscription to the Defence Force
in an attempt to nurture his blood lust. Bok’Tof was an easy target; his actions
had caused the deaths of many, his sentence was to be custodial service but his
Father’s Bad Blood status allowed the High Priest the ability to invoke the
“Sins of the Father”. The high Priest sat back as he contemplated the outcome of
his scheme. His communication screen flickered into life, He waved to the image
with forced apathy, “Ah, Elder. So glad you could entertain me at such short
was clearly agitated, his mandibles flared; “High Priest Dorok; the council is
eager to know where you are. I cannot cover for you any longer.”
leant toward the screen with contempt in his eyes; “Tell them nothing, it is no
longer of any consequence. I am only hours away from acquiring the source of our
salvation. The council has grown as weak as their clansmen. Their thirst for
glory at all costs has gone. All that will change. Our people were made strong
by the elimination of the weak by the Changelings many aeons ago. It is time for
another purge. When I unleash the creature upon our world again, we will once
more rise up a glorious race of natural warriors and survivors.”
covered the face of the Elder, “Dovok, this is madness! The Changelings will
destroy us all! You’re insane!”
abruptly ended the communication and leant back in his chair; “The history
scrolls will see things differently.”
had increased dramatically sending the helicopter reeling from side to side as
it was buffeted by the thick mists and sheer cold. Kristanna turned to face
their new passengers, unsure of how to break the obvious tension. She looked
upon the struggling form of Bok’Tof as he groaned; bright green blood trickling
from his mouth. “Thanks for helping us back there.”
Yautja stared; their expressions masked by their helmets.
you all look like him behind your masks.” She looked out at the darkness before
turning back to face them, “So, Yautja; is that what you’re called? Yautja?”
tilted his head in recognition of the word.
pointed to Lewis and then to herself, “Human.” Then she pointed at Tra’Bir and
Ramnah, “Yautja.” Finally she pointed back at herself, “Kristanna.” As the
Yautja stared at her unmoving she decided that her Extra Terrestrial bonding
session was a waste of time.
What is that?” Lewis pointed the spot light at the crater containing the Yautja
craft. Ramnah leant into the Cockpit and pointed down. He wanted them to land.
Yautja craft rocked as the helicopter came in to land. The Yautja leapt from the
back before it had even touched the ground. Kristanna moved to open the cockpit
doors. Lewis grabbed her shoulder, “Krissy, wait.”
stopped and turned to face him, “What is it?”
promised Sverre I would keep you safe.” He gripped his arm as the pain
intensified, searing through his nerves like a hot needle, “I-I don’t think I
can do that anymore.”
looked from his eyes to his arm, “Why? What happened?”
slowly rolled back his sleeve to reveal a deep gash on his arm; tiny specks were
moving slowly inside causing his skin to pulsate slightly. “During the fight; it
got me. That thing you were saying about a small amount being enough to
guarantee it takes you over. I don’t know how long I’ve got. You’ve got to
promise me, the first sign that I’ve changed. End it.” He pulled his wallet from
his jacket pocket and handed it to Kristanna, “When you get back. My wife…”
silenced him by placing her finger against his lips. “Don’t worry; she will know
you were thinking of her to the very last moment. And she will know how much you
love her. I’ll make certain of it.”
welled in his eyes, “Thanks”
14: Chapter 14
Fourteen – The Calm Before the Storm
lay sleeping in the rear of the helicopter. She had promised Lewis she would
stay awake to warn the Yautja in the event of him succumbing to his injury;
unfortunately sheer exhaustion got the better of her. Lewis now sat fiddling
with the helicopter controls. The engines were switched off so his incessant
interfering with the instruments served as nothing other than an attempt at
distracting himself from the tirade of thoughts that plagued his mind. Death was
not something that Lewis had spent too much time dwelling on in the past. Now he
had to cope with his own inevitable and imminent demise. He always assumed that
he would die at a ripe old age, surrounded by loved ones; a peaceful death in
his sleep. It just didn’t seem fair to him that he would die there in the icy
grip of the Antarctic surrounded by aliens and a woman that wasn’t his wife. He
wondered if there was still anything left of the person taken over at the point
of the creature “bursting out”. He tried to block the thought out of his mind,
busying himself instead with attempting to contact Amundsen-Scott station using
the helicopter’s radio. The static punctuated the lack of response from any form
of radio equipment reinforcing the isolation and sheer distance they were from
civilization. Lewis clenched his fist and punched the dashboard in desperation.
woke with a start, her arm reaching for the door release handle, “Everything
saying a word, Lewis swung open the door to the helicopter and jumped out into
the swirling mists. It was becoming darker; night was creeping in. The winter
months were drawing nearer, the entire continent could be plunged into darkness
for days on end at the lowest point. Lewis cursed the cold, cursed the darkness
and finally cursed his situation. It was plain and simple; he was going to die.
He considered interrupting the Yautja and trying to explain his situation to
them in the hope that they may kill him. He could simply run in there and start
a fight with the biggest one, surely that would do it. Then his thoughts turned
to Kristanna; when he’s gone, she would be alone. Alone like his wife; forced to
face life as a widow, bringing up a child alone. He fought back his tears and
returned to the helicopter in time to see Kristanna putting on her jacket and
tying her hair back into a pony tail.
looked at him and smiled, “I’m going to join the aliens in their ship, its
warmer in there. You coming?”
slumped into the cockpit, “Yeah, just want to check the radio some more.”
scanner screen displayed thermal readouts of the various ice structures located
in a 300 mile radius around the Amundsen-Scott station. Jens, the radio
operator, sat lazily in his chair sipping the thick black coffee that sat in the
Styrofoam cup he gripped with both hands. The station was heated but looking
over the vast expanses of ice always made him feel cold. His attention was drawn
from his steaming cup by a bright ball of light on one of the temperature
readouts. “What the hell was that?” He swung his chair to face his desk phone
and punched in a four-digit extension number; “Sir? I think you should come take
a look at the readouts for the last 24 hours.” He swung round to face the screen
again, “judging by the thermal readouts, there’s been an explosion at Outpost
had managed to successfully strap Bok’Tof onto a makeshift table and had
attached a wrist computer to his remaining arm and activated the mediscan. Red
lights danced across the display and alien characters flickered along the dark
panel. The now heavily sedated Bok’Tof groaned quietly.
watched over his fallen comrade with concern; “sleep well, my brother.” He
turned to face Ramnah; his eyes showing his doubt for his patient’s survival.
turned away from Bok’Tof’s body as a mark of respect. He bowed his head and
prayed to Cetanu that the fallen one would be taken swiftly. As he finished he
raised his head and his attention was caught by the steady blinking light on the
navigation panel. “Tra’Bir!” He roared as he ran to the console; “There is a
Yautja craft nearby.”
be foolish. We have been exiled. We have no right to contact our former people.
They would disregard us at best.” Tra’Bir rebuked Ramnah but then softened his
tone for the young hunter; “But I see no problem with tracing their movements.”
slung himself into the control seat and activated the navigation console. His
fingers danced across the screen as he activated the tracing routines and
initiated the tracking system. He excitedly turned to face Tra’Bir; “It appears
to be engaged in final descent into this planet’s atmosphere. Their trajectory
would indicate they’re landing less than 200 miles from our location.”
slowly starting to drift off into sleep; the pain in his arm seemed to lessen
for a while. He reasoned that maybe it has changed its mind and no longer wanted
to infect him, or maybe it had already infected him and he was now an alien just
pretending to think like him. The twisted logic of his thoughts caused his head
to throb. The dull pain began to subside as his eyes slowly fell closed and he
began to drift off.
Outpost 31. Outpost 31. This is Amundsen-Scott station. Do you read? – Krrrzt”
The speaker on the radio vibrated hard causing it to visibly shake.
snapped out of his slumber; a look of shock played out on his face. He fumbled
with the mic; “Amundsen Scott. This is Outpost 31. Well. What’s left of it. Can
you hear me?”
silence for a moment. Absolute silence save for Lewis’ heart thumping against
his chest. “Please, please.” He begged the radio to respond.
Outpost 31. I read you faintly. Your signals real weak. We’re having to boost
the signal with the emergency dish just to hear you. We detected an explosion at
your compound. Can you clarify? - Krrrzt”
all dead. There are only two of us left. We have made our escape in the chopper.
Our current co-ords are South 89.9975° by East 139.2728°. Request urgent
Outpost 31. Request acknowledged. Due to the weather it may take us some time. –Krrrzt”
laughed, “I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere. Thanks. Over and out.” He leapt
out of the helicopter to run to the Yautja ship to tell Kristanna the news but
no sooner was he out of the cockpit he fell to the floor with a searing pain in
his chest that seemed to squeeze the very air from his lungs. Gathering all his
strength; Lewis staggered up to the craft and through the airlock doors.
15: Chapter 15
Fifteen – Survival of the Fittest
Yautja mother ship was a behemoth yet was now gracefully gliding through the
Earth’s atmosphere as it continued it’s descent to the icy continent below. On
the bridge, the heavily armoured soldier disabled multiple auxiliary functions
to distribute power to elsewhere in the craft. As he deactivated each console in
turn he came to the terminal used by the High Priest.
He hasn’t closed his session”; muttered the soldier. As he closed down the
various star charts and entity classifications on the screen he was shocked to
see the conversation log from a recent communication with the Council of Elders.
As he read through it he realised the gravity of the situation he now faced. He
was too engrossed in this new revelation to hear the bridge door slide open.
Priest stood behind the oblivious soldier; “Interesting reading?”
soldier snapped round to face Dovok, “You! You’re planning to actually do the
things written here?”
held his hand aloft in a gesture of placidity, “My friend, you misunderstand;
the information you have before you is purely fiction. Something put together as
part of a training exercise I have planned.”
soldier stared at Dovok unfazed; “If that is the case, you won’t mind explaining
it to the council of Elders.” He raised his spear.
breathed a heavy sigh; “I wished it wouldn’t come to this but you leave me with
no choice”, he uncovered a dart gun that had been hidden under his robes and
fired it into the soldier’s spear wielding arm causing him to crash to the
floor; the sedative laden dart working immediately.
soldier came to he found himself in the bottom of a dark circular pit. The sides
were metallic and offered no means of escape. The top of the pit was covered in
translucent green mist; it was a holding pen.
soldier struggled to his feet and felt for his weaponry; he had none. Worse
still; he had been stripped of his armour. “Dovok! May Cetanu banish you from
the other world! You’ll never get away with this!” A sudden flurry of movement
caused the soldier to spin round to face the source of the sound. He approached
the shadows from where the noise had emanated. The holding pens were used for
transporting live cargo but none had been registered as aboard the ship. As he
drew closer to the shadow he was able to make out a figure. A large figure;
crouched; its elongated head reflecting what little light penetrated the pit.
Without warning the Xenomorph pounced upon the unarmed soldier and pinned him to
the floor. The soldier was unable to defend himself; his body was still weak
from the sedation. He could only watch on in horror as the creature prepared
itself; its teeth glistened like steel in the dim light. Slowly it opened its
mouth to reveal a second set of teeth which shot forth and pierced the skull of
the soldier sending bright green blood spattering across the walls.
stood at the camera control panel and watched with wry amusement as the Hard
Meat ravaged the twitching corpse of the soldier; “When you meet Cetanu; you can
tell him yourself.”
airlock doors slid open revealing a worse for wear Lewis. He clutched at his
chest and panted heavily as though his throat was sealing up. The Yautja growled
their disapproval at his loud arrival. Kristanna ran to Lewis; “What’s
coughed and gripped tighter at his chest, “It’s getting worse. I don’t think I
have long left. Look; I have been in touch with Amundsen-Scott. Its gonna take a
while but they’re coming. It’ll be too late for me but at least you’ll be ok.”
Kristanna’s face filled with hope but quickly became overrun with a look of
sheer fear; “Tell them to turn back. We can’t risk them becoming infected. We
certainly can’t risk our aliens seeing strangers, they might decide to kill them
like they did with…” In all the excitement she had forgotten about Navarro. He
had been killed in front of her by the very beings that now offered her shelter.
pushed her away, “Don’t be stupid; you’re getting out of here. You can make up
any story you want about what has happened. Just make sure it involves a
communicable virus that lay dormant in the ice; something like the Ebola virus
or similar. Just to make sure that they don’t go to the Outpost to check.”
leaving you here to die!”
you understand it Krissy; I’m already dead!”
Kristanna’s eyes welled with tears as she looked into the determined expression
on Lewis’ face. She couldn’t take it anymore; seeing those people killed in
front of her very eyes was nothing compared to this senseless but somehow
peaceful death that crept up on Lewis. He was doing all he could to ensure her
survival without a second thought for his own suffering. She looked away, not
bearing to look upon the man who was looking out for her in spite of his
impending death. The Yautja were now distracted from their computer screen and
stared at the two of them; clearly confused.
and Ramnah stood transfixed; their gaze switching between the two soft meat.
These creatures allowed their emotions to run their bodies. Such a lack of
sensual discipline made them weak. Tra’Bir’s attention turned to the beeping
console behind them. He turned to the screen and read through the output.
“They’re coming in to land; using our ship as a reference. They’re coming for
mother ship hovered miles above the icy wastelands of the Antarctic; Dovok stood
in front of a line of heavily armoured Yautja soldiers. A landing shuttle
powered up behind them. Dovok slowly paced in front of them; “My brothers; a
grave error has been made by the Council of Elders. They have sent three of our
beloved brethren into exile as Bad Bloods on inconceivable charges. They have
sent them into this desolate wasteland that lies beneath us. Left them there to
perish. One lay dying as we speak; the other two have not got long before they
suffer the same fate. There are also members of the indigenous population that
are suffering due to the negligence of the Elders. We must collect them and put
them into quarantine with our exiled brothers. We must put right the wrongs of
our people. We will travel to the surface and rescue these poor victims of
circumstance. Prepare yourselves to do the will of the Gods.” The soldiers
roared in approval and began to file into the landing craft. Finally; Dovok
entered the craft and the airlock slid open as it began itsdescent to the mists
of the Antarctic below.
assessed the incoming stats regarding the Yautja vessel with a hint of
suspicion. Were they coming straight for them? Was there other Yautja already
here? He performed another entity scan to locate the proximity of life forms in
their immediate area. The screen showed a large collection of Yautja at 30,000
feet above their position and descending rapidly. “Defence force greeting party”
he muttered to himself. His eyes fixed on a new entity entry on the screen. The
system had picked up a further two type 5 life forms within close range. One was
a weak signal but one was undeniably strong. He snapped round and fixed on the
two soft meat that sat in the far corner of the cockpit. They were in close
discussion. He assumed they were planning their attack. He extended his
wristblade and roared in fury. Ramnah ran to his side, “What is wrong Tra’Bir?”
creatures are not as they seem. The scanners show changelings have infiltrated
our ship. We must destroy them.”
forced his palm into Tra’Bir’s chest; “You are wrong; they fought alongside me.
They cannot be Changelings.”
began to convulse.
shoved Ramnah away; “You have softened to them. They are not pets. We should
neutralise them before they cause more damage.”
to the Yautja; the straps holding Bok’Tof in place tore away. Whip-like
tentacles emerged from his body as he shook ever more violently.
again blocked Tra’Bir’s path; “You are making a mistake we can trust the soft
grabbed the wrist of Ramnah firmly; “We allow ourselves too close to these
things, they cause nothing but pain. Look at your clan-brother. He’s dying in a
corner because of how easily the changelings can interact with these pathetic
emitted a primal scream causing the other Yautja to spin round to face him.
Bok’Tof’s neck began to split, his head slowly sinking into his torso. Finally
his chest split in two as his head began to protrude from within.
stared in disbelief at the grotesque spectacle, “Pauk!”
heard the commotion and stood to look around the squabbling Yautja. There; lying
on the makeshift table, the third alien was twisting and mutating, His head
rising out of his chest like a flesh phoenix. Lewis froze to the spot with fear,
sickening tearing sound could be heard as sinewy strands pulled away from the
mutilated body of Bok’Tof revealing a dark slimy shaft of tissue that slowly
ascended until the head was towering over the terrified onlookers. Large
spider-like legs protruded from the torso and the mass began to amble toward the
survivors; the whip like tentacles lunging forth with every step. One of the
tentacles encircled Tra’Bir and pulled him closer to the creature, he deftly
swiped with his wristblade severing the tentacle and sending it crashing limply
to the floor. The severed appendage flailed wildly before hundreds of tiny legs
burst from within and a set of sharp pincers protruded from the gaping wound.
The tentacle scuttled toward Kristanna at lightening pace. She turned to run
from the advancing menace but her progress was impeded by Lewis.
grabbed her arm and pushed her firmly into the airlock, “Run!” He pinned the
tentacle creature with his boot and then pulled his hip flask from his pocket
and doused the writhing tentacle. He grabbed a marking flare from his jacket and
held it over the spirit soaked alien. “I propose a toast!” He dropped the flare
onto the trapped creature engulfing it, and his foot, with flames. The beast
writhed in agony as the fire seared its flesh before falling silent as the
contained conflagration claimed it. Lewis removed his jacket and smothered the
flames that covered his boot. He then made a break for the airlock to ensure
that Kristanna made it to the helicopter. As he sprinted outside he came to
Kristanna’s lonely figure stood with her back to him, unmoving.
limped to her side; his chest now feeling fit to explode; “What’s the hold up?
We need to get you to the Station”
turned her head and looked pleadingly into his eyes. “Run.” She whispered as
tears streaked her cheeks.
quickly scanned the general area, there was nothing else here. Why would he have
to run from her? As he backed away, his question was violently answered as he
felt a sharp pain in the back of his head. He fell to the floor and felt intense
pressure on his throat as if being held down by some invisible force. Before his
eyes, several creatures materialised into view. They looked like the creatures
he had just left fighting for their lives in the spaceship only much more
advanced. Their armour was shining and clearly spotless; their wristblades were
less ornamental than the others. Stood directly in front of Kristanna was an
immense robed figure, his ceremonial dagger held to her throat. Finally Lewis
felt a sharp pain in the back of his head and everything went black.
and Ramnah fought with all the strength they could possibly muster. Each
appendage they severed from the Changeling became a separate living entity and
would either engage them in battle or attempt to escape. Each burst of
plasmacaster fire served only to enrage the Bok’Tof abomination further; its
mandibles clicked and flared as it mimicked their expressions. Ramnah rolled
away from a deadly tentacle strike and stood back to back with Tra’Bir; “It is
immovable. We must overcome it somehow. It cannot be allowed to live past
snarled; “even if it costs us our own lives”
pulled his spear from its strapping and extended it, “better to live a second as
a warrior than an eternity as a coward. It has been a pleasure to fight by your
cackled; “you might not have proved yourself in the hunts but today you have
earned yourself the mark of your clan.”
Yautja roared as they lunged at the Changeling with their spears extended and
poised to attack. The spear points hit home pinning the wailing creature to the
navigation console. As it flailed violently in an attempt to escape, Tra’Bir
grabbed hold of the wristcomp bearing arm and initiated the destruct mechanism.
Tra’Bir cursed, “There isn’t enough energy to achieve critical mass. It needs to
be attached to a living Yautja to send it over.” In an instant Tra’bir knew what
he had to do. He tore his visor from his face and roared with all his might, “If
I am to die, I will die in victory.” He sliced the arm from the changeling and
attached the wristcomp to his own arm. The changeling wrapped its tentacles
around Tra’Bir and pulled him closer. He was now inches away from death. His
mandibles almost touching those of the changeling’s grotesquely deformed head.
Suddenly it pulled him down; impaling him onto his own spear. He roared in agony
as green blood began to run fro the corner of his mouth. He painfully
reactivated the destruct mechanism and watched as it counted down.
“Farewell, Brother.” Ramnah burst into sprint toward the airlock and out into
the storm outside.
began to laugh as the Changeling pulled him closer; its tentacles penetrating
his skin and slowly consuming him. He looked into its eyes in the final few
seconds and whispered, “Let us now rest; Bok’Tof my dear brother.”
explosion vaporized the craft and its immediate surroundings creating a deep
crater where the ship and helicopter had once been. Ramnah had been thrown to
the floor by the shockwave of the blast and lay face down in the ice. His
strength had been sapped by the battle and from being thrown to the ground with
such great force. As he rolled onto his back he tried to focus on the two
outlines that appeared above him. He had little to no resistance as they
attached shackles to his hands. He could feel consciousness slipping away as the
two figures began to drag him away.
16: Chapter 16
Sixteen – The Breakout
moment Lewis could open his eyes he then was forced to keep them closed tightly
by the blinding light that shone directly on him from above. He tried to raise
his hand to shield his eyes but found that it was strapped tightly by his side.
He cried out in pain as a large needle penetrated the wound on his arm and
proceeded to extract blood; the clear glass container slowly filling. He cried
out even further when the pain in his chest returned; it was now almost
unbearable. A second needle pierced his neck and injected him with a translucent
green liquid; the pain in his chest subsided. The light dimmed slightly as the
overhead lamp slid away and Lewis could now see the room he was in. The metallic
walls were covered with monitors and readouts, the doorway looked extremely
ornate with miniature effigies lining the top. He couldn’t see them clearly but
could tell even from this distance that they were not human. He craned his neck
to look over the wound in his arm; it had been cleaned. The dark particles that
formerly could be seen moving within were now no longer present. He noticed the
large monitor facing him from the far wall. Although he could not understand the
language, the diagram explained it thoroughly enough. It was an outline of a
person. The majority was filled in green with the exception of its right arm and
part of the chest that sported an urgent-looking red. The infection had spread.
Although his captors were keeping him pain-free, he felt that the longer he
remained strapped to this table; the worse his situation would become.
Unfortunately the sturdy straps that held him firmly to the table offered little
hope of escape. “Well this is different” he muttered to himself; “Guess I’ll
just wait around here; see what happens.”
Ramnah felt was lessening with every impact on his battered and bruised body.
The wire that held him up cut deep into his wrists. His torso was littered with
burn marks from the business-end of a shock gun. Ramnah simply looked into the
eyes of his attacker with a look of defiance. Dovok held his hand up to signal a
pause in the brutal onslaught. The attacker stepped back. He was a large
muscular Yautja; his face covered with a ceremonial visor resembling a skull. He
was an Inquisitor, employed by the council of Elders to punish and glean
important facts from Bad Bloods prior to their sentencing. The room was dark and
foreboding; at the side of the Inquisitor stood a table containing Ramnah’s
wrist blades, visor and various instruments of torture.
stepped closer to the beaten figure of Ramnah; “You fool. Your hasty act of
bravado has destroyed one of the most significant finds for aeons. You are
fortunate that one of your soft meat pets carries traces of the infection with
it. Otherwise we would have no use for you.”
creature has killed our brethren. Their deaths were senseless and…”
“Necessary.” Dovok cut over Ramnah’s protest; “Our ancestors would not have
fallen victim to this creature. We have become weak, heavily reliant on our
technology and less on our wits. All that will change when I reintroduce the
Changeling back to our home world. Our weapons are feeble at best against its
immense strength and versatility.”
your honour? You stand there and talk of weakness yet have your bidding done by
think I am weak?”
sneered; “High Priest; the only ones who wear long garments and talk as much as
you are the Child Makers.”
waved his hand and the Inquisitor pounded his enormous fists into Ramnah’s
already bruised face.
stood over Ramnah; “Your compassion for the soft meat makes you no better. I
know your thoughts are on their safety. I will put your mind at rest. Your
female pet is locked up safely with a pet of my own.”
searched the smooth metal walls of this high cylindrical room in search of a
method of escape. Although the walls were extremely high; there appeared to be
no roof or ceiling. She looked up at the translucent green mist that covered the
top; there was little chance of climbing up there, and even if she could; that
mist was there for a purpose. Her thoughts of escape were cut short by a faint
hissing sound. She turned and followed the source of the noise and found a large
lathery egg-shaped mass. The base had a form of webbing containing what appeared
to be roots. It slowly pulsated and emanated its low menacing intermittent hiss.
Kristanna slowly backed away from the mass until she was pressed against the
cold hard metal of the wall. She had no idea what was inside the cocoon, but
there was one thing she knew for certain; she was in trouble.
tired of witnessing the savage beating before him; “Come; we will leave him to
contemplate what fate has in store for him. Give him something to keep him going
until our return.” The inquisitor slammed his fist into the side of Ramnah’s
head sending blood flying across the room. Their laughter faded as they left the
room and headed down the corridor. Ramnah hung there suspended by the wires that
sliced into his skin, his thoughts dwelled with his predicament. He was alone,
he was beaten and unarmed. An honourless death would surely follow. The
inquisitors tended to take you apart piece by piece and once you had finally
died, they would smash your skull in a final act of disrespect. To them, you
were not worthy to be kept as a trophy. He closed his eyes in an attempt to shut
out his harsh reality. Thoughts of Tra’Bir flashed before him. He had known the
end was coming and had embraced it; choosing to fight to the death over fleeing
and allowing his adversary to live. His train of thought was suddenly derailed
by screams of pain from further down the corridor. The screams sounded like
those of the soft meat; it sounded like the male. Dovok must have been using his
Inquisitor on him. Ramnah’s eyes fell upon the tray of torture implements that
stood just out of reach. He stretched his foot as far as he could and cursed as
he was still a considerable distance away. He steeled himself for the inevitable
agony as he attempted to force his hand out of the wires that held him. He let
out a roar as the wires dug deeper into his wrists causing blood to flow thick
and fast from the wounds. As the wire gouged deeper into his skin he found
himself slightly closer to the table. He paused for a second; footsteps were
heading back toward the room. He clenched his mandibles tightly and lurched
forward again, the wire cut deep into his fingers and removed large chunks of
flesh from his hand but with a final and audible roar of exertion, his hand
pulled free. He reached for the nearest implement on the tray; a large metal
duo-blade with serrated edges. He sliced through the final wire that restrained
him with relative ease and crashed to the floor. The footsteps were now outside
motionless as the Inquisitor stepped into the room. He looked upon the prone
body of Ramnah and noted the blood and snapped wires. Slowly he advanced; his
eyes not leaving Ramnah for a moment. The Inquisitor stooped low over him and
turned him onto his back. Ramnah lay there with his eyes closed; the blade in
his hand hidden under his leg. The Inquisitor placed his hands around Ramnah’s
lower mandibles and started to attempt to tear them from his face. Ramnah
snapped his eyes open and thrust the blade forth. The Inquisitor roared as the
blade sliced deep into his side. He leapt back and checked the severity of the
wound. Ramnah got to his feet and gestured to the Inquisitor to attack him. They
charged to each other with lightning pace, the sickening crunching sound of body
against body rang out as the two exchanged blows. The Inquisitor grabbed at
Ramnah’s braids and pulled them tight while delivering vicious blows to his face
with his other fist. Ramnah kicked out at him and landed a hard kick into his
stomach causing a moment’s lapse of concentration. Ramnah followed up with a
savage uppercut that landed directly above the Inquisitor’s throat sending his
visor crashing to the ground. The inquisitor lifted Ramnah from the ground and
launched him across the room. He landed on the floor with a thud and lay there
winded; his blade slid away from him.
the Inquisitor stalked toward Ramnah; “I’m going to enjoy this. Runts like you
are a disgrace to the species.” He leaned over Ramnah and wrapped his immense
hand around his throat. Ramnah felt the pressure on his throat intensify; black
spots began to form in his vision. He fumbled to reach the blade, his fingertips
gently skirting over it. Finally with a moment of excessive concentration, he
gripped the handle. Ramnah knew the moment had arrived; he thrust with the blade
again, sending it firmly into the Inquisitor’s throat. His grip on Ramnah’s
throat lessened and he fell to the floor choking on his own blood. Ramnah
regained his breath and struggled to his feet. He staggered to the now upturned
table and collected his wristblade and visor. After attaching them he turned
again to face the now completely dead Inquisitor. He stood over the corpse and
watched the green blood ooze from his throat before finally raising his foot and
with all his strength bringing it down hard; the blow easily crushing his skull.
Ramnah darted out of the room and headed down the long corridor away from the
screams of Lewis. It was not time to face Dovok; not yet. He reached the doorway
that lead to the cargo and holding pens and slid it open.
soldier blocked his path, “You should not be here.” He raised his spear.
extended his wristblade; “I was about to say the same thing to you.”
stared transfixed at the egg as it pulsated and twitched before her eyes. Slowly
the top of the egg peeled open with a wet tearing sound and two small spindly
legs gripped the edge. As it pulled itself out of the egg, its form became
clearer. It was a large spider-like creature with a long tail. It skin was the
colour of flesh and glistened as it was bathed in the green glow from above.
Without warning the creature launched itself from the rim of the egg toward
Kristanna with intense velocity. She darted out of its way and ran to the other
side of the room. The creature scurried along the floor to her; its tail
flicking back and forth as it did. She dared not look back as she ran at full
speed across the room, the clattering sound of the creature’s legs against the
metal grated floor coming ever closer to her with each step. Finally she fell to
the floor and backed herself into the corner. It drew ever closer. She screamed
as it finally leapt at her; its legs outstretched and its tail aiming for her
neck. With a flash of silver the creature was gone. Kristanna looked to the
floor and saw it pinned to the floor by a large spear; its blood eating a hole
in the metallic floor. She looked up to the top of the walls and saw the green
mist had gone. Stood at the edge was Ramnah.
17: Chapter 17
Seventeen – Fight or Flight
Xenomorph watched through the vent into the adjoining chamber as the soft prey
was assisted out of the holding pen by one of the hunters. Although it’s
exposure to these armoured beings was limited, its hive memory told it that it
hated them. It could sense its brothers were detained nearby. It knew it had to
free them. Their Queen was subdued but alive; the hive must be re-established at
all costs. It had tried to push through the vent earlier but had been burned
when it touched the vent. The box with the green flashing light was making it
burn. Staring mesmerized by the beautiful green light that pulsed rhythmically
it pondered the problem. Its gaze was drawn to the face hugger that lay skewered
in the now vacant pen; its blood eating into the metallic floor. The others
could sense its thoughts. They approved. The Xenomorph laid its tail across the
floor and held itself above it. With a roar of fury it launched the sharp teeth
of its second mouth into the carapace at the tip of its tail. Blood sprayed from
the tip as the spike at the end severed away easily. The Xenomorph swung its
tail back and forth dousing the green box with its acidic blood. With a hiss and
a loud crack the box melted away from the wall. With a growl of determination
the Xenomorph slowly approached the vent. Stopping suddenly it remembered the
burning pain. It turned to face the mangled carcass of the dead hunter that lay
on the floor. The Xenomorph scooped up a chunk of torn flesh and tossed it
against the vent. Nothing happened. Slowly but decisively the Xenomorph advanced
on the vent.
struggled with his bonds as one of the creatures examined his wound. Only a few
moments earlier they had wheeled in a table containing one of their own kind;
restrained in the same was as Lewis was. He wasn’t struggling to escape, he must
have been sedated. The robed creature stood over him watching intently as the
blood extracted from Lewis’ arm was injected into the neck of the sleeping
struggled against his bonds; “You’re fucking crazy! Do you have any idea what
turning to face the source of the outburst, one of the creatures; dressed in the
armour of the hunters; approached and swung open a container removing a vial
containing a deep green liquid which they promptly injected into the creature at
the same site as the first injection that contained Lewis’ blood. The creature
began to spasm as the green chemical reacted within its blood causing the cell
re-growth in the infected blood to accelerate rapidly. The hunter then stepped
back and pulled another vial from the container, this time a deep red colour.
The creature on the bed stopped struggling and lay dormant. The hunter pulled
his knife from his belt and plunged it deep into the creature’s chest causing it
to roar and spasm violently. Its skin tearing and tentacles began flailing back
and forth. Without hesitation the hunter placed the contents of the vial onto
the tip of a dart and fired it into the chest of the rapidly mutating creature.
It wailed and thrashed as its flesh bubbled and burnt. It screamed as the skin
shrivelled and buckled until an unidentifiable mass lay motionless on the table.
The hunter activated the scanner above the table. From the images, Lewis made
the assumption that the red chemical killed the cells that caused the mutation.
A grim realisation gripped him; they were trying to control it, not contain it.
The two creatures turned to Lewis and slowly approached him. The Hunter was now
holding the vial containing the green liquid.
Kristanna’s thoughts were fraught with confusion; this creature that first tried
to kill her had not only assisted their escape from the outpost but now had
rescued her from what she assumed was certain doom at the hands of that spider
creature. Why would this being have such a change of loyalty? Why would it have
a change of heart? Her lungs felt like lead as she tired from running down the
corridor at full sprint. She looked to her masked saviour. He seemed to be
holding back so she could keep up with him. At least she assumed it was a “he”.
Its muscular physique resembled that of a human male. Kristanna finally began to
drop back as her energy depleted. She leant against the wall, gasping mouthfuls
of air. Stars danced in front of her eyes as she struggled to maintain
consciousness. Ramnah skidded to a halt and turned to face Kristanna. He walked
back to her and stared at the heat signatures dotted around her body. He could
plainly see that she was exhausted. He snapped his head to look down the
corridor they had previously run through; the sound of hurried footfalls could
be heard. The soldiers had found their fallen comrade and were now giving chase.
Ramnah repeatedly looked at the tired form of Kristanna and back down the
corridor before finally scooping her up in his arms and running at full pelt
down the corridor putting as much distance between them and their pursuers as he
possibly could. Kristanna was slight in build but carrying her would still slow
down even the strongest runner, yet this creature was able to sprint at an
incomprehensible speed. Shapes sped past her eyes as she was carried through the
maze of corridors. Ramnah came to an abrupt stop as he was met by several
soldiers all with spears brought to bear on them. Ramnah allowed Kristanna to
slide to the ground and activated his wrist blade and gave a furious roar. One
of the soldiers stepped forth and threw his spear to the ground, also activating
the blade on his own wrist. The two circled each other; behind their visors
neither one took their eyes from their opponent. Finally with the clashing of
metal and the slam of body against body, the two began to land vicious blows
upon each other. The soldier gripped the badly cut wrist of Ramnah causing him
to snarl in pain before striking the soldier across the face with the back of
his wrist blade sending him crashing to the floor. Quickly the soldier leapt to
his feet and charged at Ramnah. The two combatants became locked in a deadly
embrace, each trading vicious blows with the other. Ramnah saw his opportunity
and plunged his wrist blade into the side of the soldier and kicked him away
with all his strength. The soldier skidded across the floor before struggling
back to his feet.
readied himself for a further attack; “You wear the honourable mark of the
defence force yet you follow the whim of the corrupt High Priest. He will betray
you as he did my brothers and me.”
soldier sneered; “Spare me the lies, bad blood. Save your breaths because you do
not have many left.”
the corridor was plunged into darkness. Kristanna could see nothing but Ramnah
was still able to see. The ship’s emergency defences had activated. The soldier
backed away from Ramnah and activated his wrist computer. A 3d image projected
from within and rotated slowly in front of the visor of the soldier. The image
was of the ship. The display zoomed into a single location on the ship and
outlined several creatures with long tails. One was releasing the others and
they were advancing down the service vent at speed. They were heading to their
18: Chapter 18
18 – Lewis’ Incarceration
blinked heavily as his eyes became accustomed to his new surroundings.
Everything seemed to have a deep blue tinge to it; his vision seemed wavy and
distorted. He looked down to his feet, there was no floor beneath them; he was
suspended. It was at this point that he realised that he was submerged in some
form of liquid. For a short time he panicked, clawing at his throat for fear
that he would surely drown. Reason finally came to him. Before the realisation
of his location, he was able to breathe. He forced his mind to abandon thoughts
of a watery demise and took a nervous but deep breath in through his mouth; the
sensation was warm and unusual but felt like a breath nonetheless. He reached
out with his left hand until its progress was impeded by the thick clear alloy
of his container. Instinctively he looked up to what he assumed would be the
surface of the liquid and was disheartened to see only small circular lights.
Outside the tube, the robed creature appeared to be deep in animated
conversation with the hunter from earlier. Both were pointing to a crimson light
that was flashing determinedly on the wall. Shoves were exchanged before finally
the robed being flared his mandibles and swept out of the room, pacing down a
corridor that was pitch black save for the scant deep red illumination from
similar warning lights. The hunter stalked toward the tube and placed his palm
against the glass. Lewis watched on as the creature pierced the flesh of his arm
with an empty syringe and extracted some of his luminous green blood before
finally inserting the needle of the syringe into a small slot in the tube. Lewis
felt his pulse quickening as the blood mingled with the blue fluid within the
tank. The feeling unsettled him as he felt an unnatural urge to touch the
hunter. He felt as though there was a split personality lurking in his
subconscious; A Hyde to his Jekyll. That if it were allowed, he would be forced
to concede control of his own body and allow it to be controlled by the will of
his… Monster. Slowly the blood from the syringe drifted toward him and, upon
contacting his skin, was absorbed. Within moments he could feel new sensations
as unbeknown to him, the cells within him were rapidly altering to take onboard
the new information contained in the alien blood cells. For the first time in
this entire ordeal, he felt truly scared. He could feel the creature within him
claiming more of his body; it was only a matter of time before he would succumb.
He looked deep into the hunter’s eyes as an immense surge of hate filled his
heart. With an expression of worry, the robed being returned to the room and
strode up to the hunter.
hunter turned to face him, “Nahr De’thak Taun Den takom’tah. Serk arrer...
testing his reaction.”
heart fluttered as he realised he understood the last words of this tirade of
hunter continued “I’ve put some of my blood in with him. He seemed to react. It
won’t be long now.”
creatures spoke perfect English? Why did they wait until now to do so? Lewis
looked over to the status screens that were attached to his tank. The alien
symbols were now making sense. They were indicating that Yautja blood had been
inserted in to the subject’s cell structure successfully. Lewis wrestled with
that information for a beat, and then pondered its implications. They couldn’t
speak his language. They couldn’t understand him. HE understood THEM. His eyes
darted back to the readouts on the screens. His excitement quickly turned to
horror as he pondered the contents. The liquid they had injected earlier was an
accelerant designed to make the creature inside him assimilate him faster. The
blue liquid he was currently submerged in was a chemical that suppressed the
cell takeover and instead only allowed it to take onboard information. In short;
if he stays out of the blue stuff for too long, he’s dead. Filled with
frustration, Lewis slammed his fist into the side of the tank causing it to
develop a miniscule crack at the point of impact. The Yaujta both turned to face
him and before long returned to their conversation. They hadn’t noticed the
crack. Lewis strained to listen to the Yautja’s conversation
hunter extended his wris tblade; “The other soft meat and the bad blood; what
are we to do with them?”
high priest pondered for a moment, “The inquisitor will be finished with the bad
blood. You can go and deal with it as you wish. The soft meat is busy
entertaining one of the hard meat samples I smuggled into the ship earlier.”
felt his insides twist. His friends were in danger; he knew he must find a way
to help them. He seemed to possess a heightened strength but it was useless as
long as he remained trapped inside his tank. To leave would mean to die. Would
death be a welcome alternative to whatever these creatures had in store for him?
He stared at the tiny crack for a moment.
what he had to do.
19: Chapter 19
Nineteen – The battle
strained her eyes in an attempt to see in the near darkness that now surrounded
her. The deep red hue that now illuminated the soldiers made them look almost
demonic. She looked to Ramnah; he was staring in the same direction as the
soldiers. Kristanna’s eyes snapped up to the same spot as the sound of scurrying
claws on metal began to emanate from the corner of the large room. The soldiers
began to back away from the spot and slowly stepped toward her. Whirring sounds
came from the shoulders of the soldiers as the corner of the room began to be
lit up with a multitude of tiny red circles that Kristanna reasoned must be the
crosshairs for some sort of weapon. As the scurrying became louder; Ramnah
nudged Kristanna in an attempt to attract her attention. She turned to see him
looking down at her, he gestured with a nod that she look down. In his hand he
proffered a retractable spear which he dropped into Kristanna’s hand. It was
surprisingly light for something that felt so dense and solid. As she held it
aloft Ramnah leant toward her and pushed her thumb firmly into a crevace in the
centre. Kristanna jumped as the spear extended and locked into place with a
soldier that had previously been attacked Ramnah slowly back up until he was at
Ramnah’s side. “You spoke of honour, bad blood. My respect and trust is earned
in battle. Will you fight with us or follow the bad blood path and save your own
extended his wristblade and wrapped his arm around that of the soldier, “I have
lived, will fight and will die according to Yautja law.”
soldier nodded, “Very well, brother. I am Fen’kah. If you fight alongside me as
passionately as you faught against me, you will earn my trust before this battle
noted that Ramnah had linked arms with the soldier and as she looked to the
others she saw that they too had all linked arms, their sights pinpointing the
vent in the corner, their spears or blades extended. The sight reminded her of
the Phalanx formation that the armies of ancient Greece used. Her attention was
thrust away from the awe inspiring sight by the violent clang of the vent being
torn from the wall. Shapes danced in the bright red circles that painted the
vent as shiny domed heads were followed by long horned tails. A swarm of what
appeared to Kristanna to be giant beasts somewhat resembling black ants were
climbing down the walls and dropping to the floor not thirty feet away from her.
White hot bolts of plasma shot forth from the shoulders of her protectors. Those
projectiles that found their target slammed home causing the black alien
creatures to explode of at the very least tore large sections away from their
bodies. The flashes of light from the impact explosions were as bright as
daylight and made the darkness that came inbetween seem thicker. Finally
darkness triumphed as the shoulder cannons fell silent and the only sound to be
heard was the violent hiss caused by the acidic blood of these black creatures
as it ate into the floor. A further patrol of the aliens began to clamber from
the vent and, seeing their siblings laying in a smouldering heap; vaulted to the
floor mere feet away from the soldiers, rendering their cannons useless. The
soldiers adopted a semi-crouched position and those with spears extended them to
face the aliens. Both sides let out a chilling roar as this inhuman carnival of
hate and pain erupted once more. Spears swung and tails shot forth both sending
acidic or luminous blood spattering over the scene. Screetches of pain were met
with roars of fury as weapons and limbs connected with their intended targets.
Kristanna faught a sudden sense of nausea that was starting to flood her
stomach. She staggered back slowly and looked up in time to see one of the large
black aliens vaulting over the Phalanx and slowly making its way over to her,
its teeth bared in anticipation of its next kill. Kristanna could feel her knees
go weak with fear as this imposing figure bore down on her. As she backed away
from the monster, her heart jumped as she lost her footing and fell to the
floor, she looked to her feet; she had slipped in some of the luminous green
blood from the soldiers. Her eyes shot to where the alien was in time to see it
begin to lunge for her, teeth bared and mouth open revealing a second row of
razor sharp teeth. Intrinctively she curled up into a ball awaiting the
inevitable. There was a sickening tearing sound and Kristanna winced as she felt
a sharp pain in her side. For what seemed like an eternity, she lay there unable
to move, paralyzed by fright. She could still hear the battle raging around her.
She couldn’t be dead, could she? She chanced opening a single eye and glanced
around her. She was still in a foetal position, her side was in agony. She
rolled to her back and screamed as she saw the razor sharp teeth of the monster
merely inches from her face. Something was wrong. It wasnt moving. Kristanna
noticed the spear she had maintained a death-like grip on during her fall. She
looked down to her side, it had torn the skin of her waist. She whimpered in
pain as she followed the spear up to its tip. The end dissapeared into the
throat of the alien. It must have been impaled when it tried to lunge for her.
She closed her eyes and allowed her head to fall back in a mixture of shock and
thrust his wristblades into the domed head of yet another of the creatures as it
flailed at he feet. The Phalanx was still holding. The aliens were being
neutralized. Fen’kah roared as his spear skewered the alien that was tearing
into the side of one of the fallen soldiers. Finally a single alien remained
crouched on the wall, surveying the soldiers and clearly analyzing its options.
This one was obviously still young. With a hiss of contempt it spun 360 and
scramled up the wall and into the vent before the soldiers could bring their
canons to bear.
pulled his spear free from the now dead alien, “Why are the Hard Meat here?
There were no plans to bring them aboard on this mission.”
retracted his blade and crouched over the mangled remains of one of the
soldiers, “They were killing, not capturing. That means no eggs so we have no
Queen and no hive here. Tell me Fen’kah; what do you know of the High Priest’s
intentions on board your ship?”
here to offer absolution to a group of bad bloods that had been exiled to this
planet. We were to rescue you all and finally allow you to be executed with
honour. He then discovered that you and some of the soft meat had been exposed
to some form of disease. We were to capture and quarantine the soft meat.”
stood and waved his hand signalling Fen’kah to stop; “The High Priest lies. He
assumed that I would die unable to tell of his deeds. I would assume that the
hard meat were smuggled aboard to catch you off guard and destroy and means of
Yautja resistance so he could take it back to our Homeworld.”
tilted his head in confusion, “Take what?”
voice was grave; “A Changeling.”
remaining soldiers stopped what they were doing and fell silent. All stared at
Ramnah looking for a sign, hoping that this was some form of joke. It wasn’t.
stood unmoving for what seemed an eternity; his eyes not leaving Ramnah. “A...
burst into motion, pacing toward the corridor Ramnah and Kristanna had
previously run down, “We must destroy this ship. It cannot be allowed to return
home. The High Priest will pay for his treachery. Ramnah, I see you as a bad
blood no more. You stood by me with honour. You are free to go, brother. Take
the soft meat and return her to her home. She does not need to perish here. I
have a piece of primitive human weaponry, she might be able to use it as
protection.” He handed a brown cloth bag to Ramnah and turned to walk away.
grabbed Fen’kah’s arm, “If I survive, I will return to take the final journey
with you. Until then; farewell, brother.” They clasped hands and then Fen’kah
turned to rally his comrades. Ramnah ran to Kristanna who was now sat upright
but was still dazed. He grasped her arm and hauled her to her feet. He glanced
over at the impaled creature and looked back at Kristanna. He nodded
smiled “Just doing my bit”. Ramnah handed her the cloth bag and walked past her,
she turned round to see where he was going. He had stopped and glanced over his
shoulder before setting off walking again. “You want me to follow. Right.” She
set off in the direction of Ramnah all the time unfastening the cloth bag. She
stopped in surprise as she opened the top of the bag and peered inside at its
contents. “Woah”, gingerly Kristanna pulled out an extremely mean looking gun
from inside. Having seen many modern gangster movies she instantly recognised it
as a Mac-10.
20: Chapter 20
20 - The Rage Within
was plunged into darkness. The only illumination came from twittering diodes
that littered the control panels that surrounded the tube. Lewis" eyes quickly
became accustomed to the gloom and his attention darted to the air vent in the
corner of the room. Metallic scratching sounds emanated from within. Those
scurryings were then replaced by the sound of plasma fire and the occasional
primal scream that clearly marked the violent demise of a life form. Finally,
the scurrying began again. Lewis watched with anticipation as the air vent in
the room began to shudder and finally break free from its housing. A sleek
figure unfurled itself from within; its shiny black carapace reflecting the
crimson glow from the control panels. The creature lowered itself to the floor
before turning its attention to the tube containing Lewis. It advanced
menacingly toward him as he remained unmoving in his fluid prison. He stared at
the glistening metallic teeth that were drawing ever closer. Lewis could feel
his heart banging hard against his chest. But it was not fear that gripped him;
it was excitement. Something within him yearned to be closer to this magnificent
beast, to understand it; to become it. Memories stirred from deep inside. These
flashbacks were not from his mind. They seemed to come from within his very
flashbacks seemed so real, so vivid. He felt pangs of familiarity at the burnt
orange sky, the rolling plains littered with small huts forming a primitive
community. The screams of pain and the roars of fury from the inhabitants as his
kind began the process of assimilating them.
Not human; but a single consciousness manifested in multiple organisms.
shook his head violently in an attempt to dislodge these alien memories from his
mind. Focussing instead on the beast that now stood mere inches from him, teeth
bared, twisting its mouth to almost resemble a sneer. He was unable to look away
from this being. He was transfixed on it. Deep down, he admired it. He watched
on in awe as its mouth opened slowly to reveal a second set of razor sharp teeth
that shot forth and pounded into the tube that contained him. Though the tube
was strong, the crack widened, the impact violent enough to initiate the built
in security measures. The creature screeched and thrashed erratically as it was
doused with jets of freezing cold liquid that shot from the base of the tube.
Lewis could feel the rage building within the now prone creature as it struggled
to its feet. With a hiss it turned away and bounded out through the main doors
and down the corridor out of view. Lewis" heart was now practically bursting out
of his chest. He anxiously cast his eyes over his surroundings look for a way to
escape his current incarceration. The glass of the tube was holding in spite of
the crack and the vicious attack by the monster. The steel supports at the base
of the tube glistened in the artificial lighting of the lab. They were covered
in a thick layer of ice. Lewis stared thoughtfully for a moment. The liquid
nitrogen had doused the creature earlier and had also covered the metal supports
in the process. Mustering all his strength, Lewis kicked the back of the tube
sending himself violently into the front. Again and again he violently forced
himself into the reinforced glass until finally weakened steel began to give
way. With a thud and the crack of ruptured steel the tube shook and began to
lean precariously toward the floor. Lewis braced himself for the inevitable
yawned as it gave way and the tube crashed to the ground, shattering on impact.
Lewis lay in a foetal position as the pain returned. It was beginning to take
him over. Time was running out.
21: Chapter 21
and Kristanna dashed down toward the escape bay and to eventual freedom. Their
progress was only momentarily marred by the occasional single Xenomorph patrol
that roamed the corridor in search of an easy meal. Short work for a trained
hunter or even a human with a machine gun. As they round the corner into the
engine bay area Ramnah froze. He turned to face one of the entry ways into the
security room. The band of hunters he had only previously fought alongside all
lay across the floor. Slain by an unknown hand. Ramnah"s insides twisted with
rage as his eyes scanned the area of the party responsible. Kristanna tugged at
his arm, "we have to go! Please!" Her touch was enough to snap Ramnah back into
reality. He resumed his pace toward the escape pod only to stop again a moment
later. Tilting his head to one side, he clicked his mandibles in curiosity at
the unusual sound emanating from within one of the rooms. With a deft kick the
door came crashing in and Ramnah strode into the room, spear extended. There in
the room was the cause of the death of his comrades. A sea of shiny black domed
heads spun to look directly at them. Shiny silver teeth exposed as though
engaged in a twisted smile. Ramnah quickly weighed up the odds and realised that
the softmeat had no chance of surviving this battle. He pulled his plasma gun
from his side and fired it into the room before dragging Kristanna by the arm at
high speed away from the hoards of Xenomorphs that began to file out of the room
and down the corridor after them. Ramnah roared and threw Kristanna down the
corridor before turning to face the creatures and prerparing for battle.
been occupying his mind with thoughts of mind over matter. He was a dead man
walking. But maybe he could make the most of the time he had left. Maybe he
could keep thoughts of failing at bay long enough to take advantage of the
instinct and the strength of the creature that dwelled inside him. It wouldn"t
want to die before it has realised its full potential so maybe they could work
thoughts" he murmered to himself.
second later, a dull thud emanated from inches behind him and was followed by a
sharp pain in his side. He turned to see the large dark creature from earlier.
It had hidden in the vents to ambush him.
scream of fear and anger he hit out at the creature with all his might. His blow
hardly connected with the beast let alone caused it any harm. Lewis winced
preparing to die at the hands of this nightmare creature. It drew closer to him
and seemed to be evaluating him. Could it sense the thing that infested him? It
turned away from him, it had no interest in killing him after all.
think so you bastard", Lewis grabbed the loose cover from the vent and charged
at the xenomorph. The sharp steel edge penetrating its throat sending acidic
blood spattering across the walls.
might have potential"
was badly beaten but was not prepared to concede without a fight. As each wave
of Xenomorph leapt into attack he cut them down with his spear and wristblades.
The resulting pool of blood was steadily eating into the flooring. Kristanna
looked up as the grating above began to buckle. They had found a way round. She
struggled to her feet and ambled to the corner of the corridor. The aliens took
no effort to destroy the grating and now surrounded Ramnah. One turned its
attention to Kristanna. It stalked her slowly. Savouring its intended meal.
Almost enjoying the anticipation. It reared back and prepared to lunge. Suddenly
a figure pounced on the creature from above. With a barrage of expletives Lewis
plunged a metal post into its mouth and pinned it to the floor. "These alien
fuckers wont kill me. I"ll make them wish they had". Ramnah had very little
armour energy left. Nowhere near enough to make critical mass and take the hard
meat with him in a blaze of glory. He rerouted the remaining power to his
plasmacaster and fired a well-aimed shot at the heart of the group sending them
scattering long enough for him to slam closed the escape bay blast doors.
looked to Lewis who was stood with his back to the door. Lewis turned to
Kristanna. "I can"t go back. I"m finished. Theres nothing else for me other than
death. Better now while I have a choice than later." He walked toward Ramnah and
raised his sleeve exposing the wound where the infection had started. Ramnah"s
eyes narrowed and he pointed to the far wall. It was dark and shadowed.
Kristanna did not need to see what was about to happen. Slowly Lewis walked to
the wall and placed his hands against it, bracing himself for a sudden and quick
death. As Ramnah extended his wristblade and paced toward Lewis to strike the
fatal blow, a plasma bolt pierced the darkness and hit Ramnah square in the back
causing him to fall at Kristanna"s feet. She looked down at him. He was stunned
familiar figure entered the chamber from an escape pod entryway. The robed
creature raised his hand and gestured for his one remaining bodyguard to stow
his weapon. Kristanna gripped the handle of her mac 10 firmly her eyes never
leaving the High Priest. They were Ramnah injured they could never outfight
these two creatures. She needed to redress the balance. With a sharp intake of
breath she raised the Mac10 and emptied the chamber in the general direction of
the High Priest. Although he was advanced in years he was nimble enough to dodge
the onslaught. His bodyguard was not so lucky. A single bullet passed through
his head and sent shattered skull and blood across the wall behind.
sensed that the time was right. He leapt from the shadows in an attempt to
restrain the High Priest. No sooner had he leapt into sight when Dovok grabbed
at the spear at his fallen bodyguard"s side and thrust it out into the direction
of Lewis. Dovok sneered, unable and unwilling to hide his arrogance and
contempt. "You thought that you could simply sneak up on me and kill me so
easily? You soft meat are more pathetic than I originally thought. I found your
kind pitiful yet endearing. Something that could be kept as a pet but was also
good for hunting. Now I have come to the realisation that you are merely a
pest." He thrust the spear deeper into Lewis" stomach, blood splayed as the tip
pierced the skin and finally protruded from his back. Dovok turned his back as
Lewis crumpled to the floor. "What a waste" Lewis lay doubled over, gasping for
breath. This last injury had sent him over the edge, he could no longer control
the creature within. Tears began to well in his eyes as thoughts of his wife and
unborn child filled his mind, he clenched his fists with rage as he thought of
his wife having to cope on her own; his child without a father. Lewis let out a
groan of remorse as he felt his humanity slipping away. A strange sense both of
peace and numbness washed over him as he became less aware of himself before
finally he sank into the eternal sleep of oblivion.
stood firm, his wristblades extended and poised to strike. Either way; this
battle was going to end with the death of a Yautja. Dovok tilted his head in
mock surprise "And now you decide that you are brave enough to face me? You are
no better than the animals you ally yourself with." "Save it , traitor" were the
only words that Fen"kah uttered as he burst from the shadows, lunging toward the
High Priest with deadly force. Fen"kah was younger, stronger and faster than
Dovok and quickly had him pinned to the ground, he lowered himself until he was
mere inches from the terrified face of Dovok and let out an ear piercing shriek
of rage before raising his arm in preparation for the final blow.
Fen"kah froze for what seemed an eternity before slumping to the floor. Dovok
unsteadily arose to his feet before tossing aside the dart gun he had concealed
under his robes. "Youth has such terrible drawbacks. So eager, yet so stupid".
Ramnah"s gaze suddenly fell upon the area immediately behind Dovok. In all the
commotion of the struggle with Fen"kah, neither he or Dovok had noticed that the
lifeless body of Lewis was no longer where it fell. The body was nowhere to be
seen. Dovok sneered as he pointed to Kristanna, "There is one working escape
pod. It will not be wasted on the soft meat livestock. She can burn here with
you, bad blood". He slowly backed into the escape pod and slammed his fist into
the engage panel causing the security door to zoom into the closed position.
Slowly the escape pod eased itself away from the main vessel. Ramnah and
Kristanna ran to the view panel next to he escape pod doors and watched as the
Smug sneer on Dovok"s face began to fade into the distance.
screamed Kristanna as she kicked at the wall in frustration. Ramnah clicked with
agitation and placed a firm grip on the back of her neck to force her to look
out at the view panel. Dovok gazed unmoving at the mothership, a sense of
accomplishment in his eyes. Behind him loomed a large figure; it was badly
disfigured but she instantly recognised it as Lewis.
froze as he felt the breath at the back of his neck. Slowly he turned to face
the imposing figure that stood towering over him. With eyes suddenly filled with
fear and mandibles flared he let out a primal scream of terror as sinewy
tentacles short forth from the mangled body of Lewis and wrapped around him. His
scream was finally cut short into a sickening gurgle as the Lewis-Changeling"s
jaw tore apart and large bone-like fangs plunged into Dovok"s throat. Kristanna
looked on as the escape pod rolled forther away from the ship and, with no pilot
to engage the heat shields, it twisted and burnt away as it reentered the
turned away and closed her eyes, "Well done. Now you can rest, honey." Her
thoughts filled with memories of Lewis and how much of a rock he had been during
this ordeal. It seemed almost poetic that he had been the one to end this
nightmare but it was also such an injustice that so many decent people had died
over the past 24 hours.
looked on at Kristanna"s weeping frame and took pity. There were no other escape
pods onboard the ship but there was a single Hunter class quick insertion pod
not far away from their current location. He was planning to use it himself to
escape once Kristanna was safe. Now there was only one option. Kristanna looked
up in time to see Ramnah striding toward her at a vicious pace, with a roar he
struck her across the face sending her crashing into the wall where she slumped
to the ground unconscious. Ramnah quickly scooped her up and walked to the
engine maintenance chamber containing the insertion pod. He deftly bundled her
inside and secured the door closed. He turned to the main console and activated
the manual eject for the pod. There was no response. Ramnah could hear the
scraping sound of claws on metal. The hard meat had recouperated and returned to
battle. Ramnah knew what he had to do. He ran to the engine cooling coil and
wrenched it from its housing with all his strength. As it came crashing to the
floor the navigation lights began to flash red. Every viewscreen flashed with
bright red lettering that dissapeared in turn. The insertion pod juddered before
finally roaring out through an opening in the side of the ship. Ramnah extended
his wristblades as the shiny black creatures slowly closed in and with a roar he
leapt to the closest one. If he was going to die, it would be in battle. The
ship was engulfed in a ball of white-hot plasma as the engines overheated and
detonated sending shockwaves through space and just as quickly as it had
appeared. It was gone.
22: Chapter 22
22: The cycle begins
insertion pod plummeted through the atmosphere, its underside glowing white hot
from the intense heat generated by re-entry. In a matter of minutes the pod
thumped down into the bleak white wasteland of the Antarctic. Kristanna tumbled
out of the escape door and into the icy mists that enveloped her. The cold air
on her skin began ro rouse her, through heavy eyes she saw a large shadow
overhead that progressively increased in size. The gentle whoosh of the snow
against her ears was then replaced by the roar of the immense engine of the
resuce helicopter that came to rest beside her.
helicopter doors slid open and a jump suited figure ran toward her. "Control, we
have a live one. Barely, but still breathing!" He crouched over Kristanna and
peered down at her through thick snow goggles before scooping her up and
carrying her into the chopper. The medical team burst into action wrapping her
up in heat foil and attaching drips and IV needles with precision and equal
care. The goggled rescuer removed his hood and eye protection and leaned over
her. "Hey there, its alright, we"ve got you now. We"re from Amundsen-Scott. We
got a distress call from Outpost 31 telling us to come here for survivors."
Kristanna moved her oxygen mask to one side, "Yes. Lewis. They"re all dead. This
creature..." Her faint mumblings were cut off as one of the medical team
replaced her oxygen mask.
rescuer continued, "We picked up a massive explosio at the Outpost so we decided
we"d buzz past. It was dead up there. A wasteland. I guess we were lucky to find
even you. Let alone your friend." Kristanna gazed blankly as the sedatives set
in. Her eyes followed the rescuer as he shuffled to the back of the helicopter.
"Yeah. Found him wandering in the mists. Seriously disorientated. Poor guy.
Lucky to be alive." The rescuer pulled back the foil wrap slightly so that
Kristanna could identify her unconscious colleague. Her heart jumped into her
throat but she was too heavily sedated to scream. Suddenly her vision began to
narrow as she slipped into sedated sleep. The last thing she saw as her eyes
forced themselves shut was the embroidered name on the shirt.