We darted through the corridors as fast as we could. At this point, my legs felt sore and my back hurt like hell, getting worse with every step I took. The mission had taken it’s toll on us with no expenses spared. Jessica somewhat limped on with her back slightly slumped. I know the stubborn woman all too well to know she’ll carry on without saying anything when hurt like she did last time on the previous mission.
As we reached the punctured hull of the ship, the sphere suddenly stopped. I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t turn to check if the creatures had caught up to us. It spun around and stared down the empty corridor.
Jessica leaped out before turning to see why I had stopped ‘What’s going on? Why have you stopped?’ She asked clutching her rifle tighter in her hands.
‘No idea. Just get to the others. I’ll sort it out.’ I replied before taking a few steps back, ‘Hey, Sphere! Come on, they’re on our tail.’ I exclaimed taking a few steps towards it. I sure as hell didn’t want them things to catch up to us, I didn’t have enough energy at that point to lone wolf a battle.
‘They’ve destroyed the relay. It’s no use, they will escape before the ship will self-destruct.’ It explained.
‘Come on! We need to regroup with the others to mount a proper defence, if they get to us here we’ll both die. At least with the others we have a slither of a chance to survive. The cave has been rigged with explosives. We’ll blow this place to smithereens before we allow them monsters to escape.’ I had really hoped my pleading was going to do the trick, I was really hoping we could use the sphere to make a difference in the war against the monsters that roamed freely above ground.
The light upon it’s instrument cluster flashed for a moment as it calculated it’s response. Then it turned back to face me and inched closer. It sort of gave me a nod of approval, it must have learned that from interactions between me and Jessica. The sounds of metal clanking approached in the distance and figures began to emerge from the far end of the corridor.
I turned and high tailed it out of there remembering to open a channel with the others. ‘Brian! Carl! Do you copy? Over.’ I yelled.
‘We’re here, Jessica’s sort of running towards us. Over.’ Brian replied.
‘Alright. Please don’t shoot the floating sphere thing. We’re coming in hot, I repeat, we’re coming in hot! Get in to defensive positions, now! Over!’ I yelled once again before they came in to view.
‘Wait… never-mind. Understood. Over.’ He finished.
Brian and Carl both stood with their rifles a few metres apart. The sphere and I rushed through the gap when they both ignited a couple of flares each and lobbed them in to the centre of the cave. They anxiously waited for the onslaught to begin whilst me and Jessica snatched a few magazines from a pile that had been left for us once we arrived. We quickly reloaded and took our place in the centre of the gap as the horde began to emerge.
The sphere inched back a few paces as a storm of growls and screeches emerged from the darkness shortly followed by their sadistic silhouettes.
Incendiary rounds glowed through the air hitting their marks. Jessica and Carl took care of the little ones whilst Brian and I tore holes in the larger ones turning them in to what I like to call Swiss cheese. However, our effects were not much effective against the larger more heavily armoured ones. Our offensive only slowed them down.
‘Brian, how many grenades you got left?’ I asked blowing the brains out of one of the creatures.
‘Only got two left.’ He replied reloading his rifle.
‘Alright, pass me one and load your launcher. On my mark we shoot the ceiling of the cave over there.’ I pointed out a spot between the ship and the larger creatures. I caught the grenade and quickly popped it in to place.
Massive chunks of the ceiling rained down upon the far end of the chamber. Enough to incapacitate the larger ones who bled out between the rocks. From what I could tell a large chunk of the ceiling ended up blocking the entrance to the ship. It was a risky move that could have killed us but we we’re lucky enough to be outside the area that was influenced by the pelting. We finished off what was left of them and took a moment to catch our breaths.
‘Let’s get the hell out of here and detonate the explosives. I don’t really feel like staying here any longer.’ Brian pleaded when a large thumping sound emanated from the blanket of rocks near the ship.
‘It’s not over yet.’ I muttered as rocks were flung over towards us. A large creature emerged from the wreckage. It easily stood about ten feet tall, it’s dark tar like skin blended in with the darkness and it’s arms were huge, think of the hulk with twice as big arms. Judging from the body language it gave off it looked pretty pissed off.
The ground shook as it stomped closer, there was no way we could detonate the explosives in time to get out of here and according to the sphere we had about fifteen minutes before the ship went kaboom.
I ordered Brian and Carl to spread wider apart whilst Jessica stayed back. As usual I moved forward and did my best to distract it whilst trying to stay alive. The creature swung it’s huge arms at me. It’s larger size meant it’s attacks were slow but they did pack a punch leaving giant crater's in the ground where it had missed me. I managed to lure it away from the others so they had a clear shot upon it’s back.
I was tired and my sluggishness began to become more prevalent as the number of close encounters began to increase. Damn it. Whilst in the frenzy I miss-stepped and twisted my ankles. This was enough of an opportunity for the creature to hit it’s mark. All I remember from this point was a loud crash as if I had been run over by a car. I coughed up a mouthful of blood which covered my visor. I remember opening my eyes to blurred vision. My head rung with a deafening silence and my head felt so numb as if I was floating through space. I would have been dead if it weren't for the armoured battle suit. With what little energy I could muster I managed to remove the helmet.
The others ran and positioned themselves between me and the creature who clearly had a grudge against me. They let loose a hail of bullets to no success.
‘Get out of here!’ I ordered. They didn’t listen and stayed put as the monstrosity inched closer. ‘Get out of here... and blow the… explosives!’
Brian moved closer to me and kneeled beside me. ‘You’ll live, now stop complaining. I’m only gonna blow this place to smithereens as a last resort.’ He took out a morphine syringe from his medical pack and injected me. It felt so good flowing through my body as it numbed the pain.
‘Shit! There’s more of them coming out of the rubble.’ Carl explained. ‘We’re on our last magazine. We need to…’ He was was interrupted by a popping sound followed by a large explosion in the creatures ugly face.
‘That wasn’t one of ours.’ Brian explained twisting his head towards the entrance of the cave.
A female figure emerged dressed in a similar armoured suit as ours but from what I could see it was way more advanced than the ones me and my team wore. She fired some shots from her rifle as she moved towards us. The ammunition she used pierced the creatures skin pausing it’s advance. The lady moved towards me and others.
‘McCarthy!’ A familiar voice called out. ‘Only you would get yourself in to a situation like this.’ she said tossing a pouch full of magazines at the others. ‘Quickly reload your weapons with these.’ She ordered the others before moving closer to me and tossing a small test tube filled with a red liquid. ‘Here, drink this.’
I did as I was bid. A strange feeling erupted within me as my ribs clicked back in to place along with my bodies healing process somehow became supercharged. Energy flowed inside of me, I stretched my body and got up. ‘Al-Hussain, It’s been a long time.’
‘There’s no time to chat. Here take my rifle.’ She tossed her rifle and a couple of magazines before reaching for the handles of two short-swords mounted upon the lower parts of her leg armour. The blades gleamed orange like molten metal and expunged a fiery aura before she made her way to the large creature. I was sort of out of the loop with the new weapons they had developed recently at the SDF but this shit looked cool as hell. And whatever magic they used in that potion seemed to do the trick fixing me up. I aimed the rifle and ordered my team to take care of the smaller creatures whilst Al-Hussain engaged in melee combat with the titan.
‘Who the fuck’s that?’ Brian asked.
‘SDF Ranger Captain Ariyya Al-Husain.’ I replied. This was a blast from the past, she had worked under me whilst I was a ranger myself in the SDF. We had worked hundreds of missions together before she got stationed in the middle-east.
‘She’s better than you.’ Brian chuckled as he finished off the last of the stragglers.
‘Listen here, I taught her everything she knows. Just ask her and she’ll tell you the same.’ I replied.
Ariyya deflected a blow from the titan before slicing it a few times in the belly. She was much faster and agile compared to myself and had the advantage of youth on her side. However the creature was unyielding no matter what she did. She went in for a lunge when the creature grabbed her with both arms and lifted her up. It squeezed her enough so that she dropped her signature swords.
‘Aim for the joint’s in it’s legs. Single fire only.’ I ordered the team, who fired careful shots as to not hit the Ranger. This lessoned the creatures grip on Ariyya who managed to release her arms from it’s heinous grip.
Ariyya aimed her arms at it’s face where small metal nozzles emerged form a section of her gauntlets and let loose an inferno of fire like a flamethrower. The creature wailed and took a few steps back dropping her to the ground.
‘Stop firing!’ I shouted as I didn’t want to take the chance of hitting her.
The Ranger picked up her swords and lunged forward digging them deep within the titans groin and rolled backwards to avoid the mammoth as it fell upon it’s knees. She climbed up on it’s legs and with a quick motion sliced it’s head clean off and jumped off placing the swords back in to their sheath’s before casually walking back. The ground rumbled as the creature smashed in to the ground.
‘We should think about getting out of here. That ship’s gonna blow very soon.’ I shouted. I grabbed the sphere with both arms and dragged it out of the entrance before we all high tailed it as far as possible. Brian flicked the switch on the explosives sealing the way there under a pile of rubble. We must have sprinted for at least ten minutes when everything started shaking uncontrollably like an earthquake.
We managed to make it out of there before the entire cave system collapsed in a sea of dust and sand. According to the airlift that waited above the ground it looked as though the earth had swallowed up a chunk of the desert.
‘Well at least it’ll get covered up in a day or two.’ I said breaking the silence and removing some parts of my battle suit.
‘I thought you gave up this life, old man.’ Ariyya interrupted. ‘What happened to “I want a normal job”’ She chuckled.
‘Yeah... that didn’t go as planned. You know how it is.’ I replied.
‘Well, the colonel wants your help with a mission. You’ll get a decent wage. You in?’ She asked.
‘That depends, who’s involved and what it entails.’
‘You can ask him in person when we land at Al Udeid Air Base.’ She finished before turning to face the sphere who I sort of held in place next me with my arm. ‘What on earth is that?’
The sphere turned to face me to hear my reply. ‘This here is… Sphere. Artificial Intelligence of some sorts…. It’s a long story I’ll fill you in later.’
A few hours later we landed at the base where US Air force personnel helped treat our injuries. Afterwards I was called in to a meeting room where the British guy and Ranger Colonel Hanson sat across from each other. Hanson stood up and gave me a hug before we saluted each other. The man had taught me everything I knew about fighting monsters.
I spent the next hour explaining the situation and what we had discovered. The original mission was to find the archaeologist before it got derailed in to a nice hot pile of mess. The British guy wasn't too happy about it but Hanson managed to convince him we could cover it up with the collapse of the cave. Another thing that was discussed was what was going to become of the Sphere. The British guy tried his best to keep possession of it as he financed the mission but the SDF had the ability to pull some rather long strings that would have ended badly for the Brit. It was decided the sphere would go to a SDF research facility where it could help with the fight against the other creatures that terrorized the earth.
‘Now that’s all over we need to talk.’ Hanson explained.
‘Yeah, Ariyya mentioned something about another mission you have for me.’
‘Yes, Indeed. Colonel Tamuramaro is leading a large mission in Japan.’ He turned to glance at the British guy who still sulked at his defeat over the ownership of the sphere. ‘The contents of which are very classified, I will fill you in on the details later on. Here take my phone and speak to you family.’ He tossed a military grade mobile phone which had the ability to call anywhere in the world.
I walked out the exit and stood in the corridor whilst punching in my wife’s number. She was really glad to hear my voice again. The kids were really excited but I had to break the bad new to them about the next mission. We chatted for a while longer before I put the phone down.
The British guy met me just before he left and wished me good luck on the next mission. He explained that he would send someone to make sure my wife received my wage for the mission.
I had some time to myself that night with the rest of my team in the med-bay. They wished me good luck with the next mission and explained they would be waiting for my return.