Ancient Research Facility
Offshore, West of Ossyria
24th April 2042
0500 Local Time
You know, there are some times where I miss being a civilian. Times like these for instance.
Private Joseph looked incredulously at his commanding officer, five metres away, crouching behind a knocked over desk with manila folders spilt all over the floor. Just moments before, a stun grenade had sailed into the room. And what usually happens when something foreign comes flying at you? You look at. The crack soldiers of the Maple Special Navy Detachment 303 were not exception. Private First Class Nezzy took the full force of the blast, being the one investigating out in the open. Wisely, the recon blindly dived away from the door, saving him from a row of sorcerous bolts that stitched up the tiles where he was previously standing.
The beleaguered squad gave back as good as they got, if not more. Beside him behind the service module, the engineer Aliyah propped her Benelli M3 shotgun on the metal workbench and gave futile suppressing fire, her vision still distorted by the stun grenade. Several metres behind them, Joseph could hear the retort of Private First Class Feys Vepr assault rifle. The rattle of the rifle mingling with the coarse thump of the shotgun. A hail of inferno bolts hammered determinedly into the service module, exploding several screens and dials and causing Aliyah to drop down in alarm. Suddenly the hostile fire stopped.
Cease fire, squad, cease fire. Lieutenant Gemina ordered, craning her neck to check on Fey and the technicians position. The mysterious attacker had stopped and she needed her squad to conserve their ammunition. All she could hear was the sound of the rain and the ragged breathing of her squad members. She keyed her microbead.
Feth, Nezzy, you alive?
No. Well of course. Feth…
Gemina peered over the upturned desk, and for a moment she could not see the recon. Then there was a flash of lightning and she spied him braced against the cabinet where they first found the technician. He looked hurt.
Ive been hit in the upper arm. Wounds cauterised.
You safe there?
This cabinet looks sturdy, it can hold a few knocks.
Gemina bit her lip. She had no way of knowing whether the intruder was dead, running for their life or just waiting for them to come out before shooting them down. She on the other hand did not have the luxury of waiting. She did not want her squad under fifty percent.
Aliyah, you see anything. By this she was referring to her augmentic left eye that could read heat and movement through stone walls and brick facades.
Its all much empty ahead. The engineer replied, the milled focus rings of his implant whirring as they moved around on automatic. Wait. No. Cant confirm so stay frosty.
This is like when I play CS, man. I enter the server and everyone leaves. Theyre like: OMG Rave, if you headshot me one more time, I going to cry in corner. Fey exclaimed, ejecting the spent clip from his rifle.
Okay, we need to get Nezzy clear in case that thing comes back.
Gemina instructed, giving another look through the empty doorway. Actually, that was the first time she realise that the figure had broken the door. The inch steel door lay deformed at an awkward angle, hanging off one hinge at the bottom.
You had to be insanely strong to do that. She was not able to think of anything else as at that moment, the figure returned, full of vengeance.
Level Seventy-Five: Command Module and Workstations
Private First Class Anni sent a stream of electricity down her fingertips, shocking Sergeant Ganzicus freezing body. Somehow she managed to contain the fear inside her as her medical training took over automatically. The massive man jerked at the defibrillation and Anni waited patiently for a sign of life in Ganzicus, the rain leaking down her neckline and over her outstretched wrists.
Come on. Dont die on me. Come on.
Another jolt of electricity struck Ganzicus weakened heart. The rest of Maple Elite Strike Unit Lambda was huddled in a semi-circle around Anni and Ganzicus, their concerned faces hidden away behind their helmets. Lightning crackled above, unnoticed and thunder roared, as if desperate to gain their attention. But their thoughts were solely focused on the medic and their sergeant.
Annis voice cracked slightly as she applied compressions to her fading leaders chest. She turned her face to look up into the downpour, wishing that it would wash her terror away.
And a distance away with the storm drowning out the gunfire and dominating the muzzle flashes, a battle commenced. And no one in the Lambda unit witnessed it, for their mind was elsewhere.
Level Seventy-Five: Command Module and Workstations
Lieutenant Gemina could see it clearly, at least, as clear as you could in the predawn light, as it entered the doorway. It looked human or at least it was humanoid, clad in a bodice composed of the same material as sentinels. The wide pauldrons were actually reinforced sentinel shells themselves and there was symbol of a feral animal forming the couters at the elbows and the poleyns at the knees. The same symbol was also etched onto its thigh plates and along the vambraces. Its left hand was covered with a gilded glove that had silver werewolf claws extending from the fingertips. Its left hand wielded a strange firearm that Gemina had never seen before. The sentinel gorget rose up high to the figures chin with a magi shield obscuring the figures actual face from view. She did not get to see anymore as the firearm cycled and launched dozens of magic bolts that disintegrated the paraphernalia littered around the room.
Suppressive FIRE! Gemina roared, XM29 braced against her shoulder, firing on full auto into the figure. She could hear others roaring with her and saw Aliyah pumping shotgun shells over the workstation. Dropping down to reload, she looked on as Joseph hastily rose with his standard sidearm. As he did so, his shoulder caught onto the top of the lamp on the desk, knocking him off balance. This probably saved his life for as he was collapsing with the lamp, a line of lightning bolts seared the back of the module behind him, where his head was just moments ago.
Fey shouted something relating to the maternal origins of the enemy, emptying a full clip from his Vepr into the bodice of the advancing figure. The technician cowering next to him just kept on rambling, oblivious to the situation around him. There was a brilliant arc of mana that danced across the room, originating from the figures body. The volatile magic spontaneously combusted several cogitator units and melted a row of books. Then just as quickly as it started it stopped and everything went quiet. Again.
There was a soft groaning sound coming from the hostile and Nezzy cocked his head to the side to see it sprawled against the doorframe, its suit eviscerated from the barrage of gunfire. The sentinel armour had an evil looking liquid seeping out of it that definitely was not blood. Or at least, was not any blood that the recon had seen before and that was saying something. Reconnaissance took you to some hardcore fighting. The magic guard that was covering its face had dissipated, revealing the identity as human but the terrible lighting hid everything else.
Hold your fire. Snapped Gemina for the consecutive time in two minutes. Nezzy was signalling to them with his good arm, gesturing to the downed figure. The room was a fething mess in the Lieutenants opinion. The fact that the side of the room inviting in a tempest did not help. In the space of under fifteen minutes, there were ugly magic burns streaking the wall and shelves behind her, sparks erupting from several blitzed cogitators and charred documents swirling about in the wake of the storms gale.
Keeping the whimpering figure in the sights of her rifle, Gemina gestured her team to advance and investigate. By now she was sure the attacker was indeed human and she intended to interrogate them thoroughly to hopefully find out what the feth was going on here. Fey emerged from behind the remains of a rickety desk, the full condition of the counter apparent as his shoulder brushed against it, bringing it down in a shrieking of steel and timber. Unfazed, Fey literally dragged the technician behind him with his left hand. His right held his Vepr unwaveringly. With a jerk of her commanding officers head, Aliyah leapt over the module she was using as cover as Joseph scurried out, hand already rummaging in his medikit as he made a beeline for the injured Nezzy.
The cauterised wound near Nezzys shoulder had stopped immediate infection although it was going to make Josephs job a lot harder. For one thing, trying to regenerate growth from a fused injury was a whole different ball game to broken bones and punctured organs. It was going to be painful and just one glance at the recons face told the medic that Nezzy knew it too. Joseph unsheathed the recons warknife from his non-regulation boot scabbard and placed the hilt into the wounded mans open mouth.
You know, its kind of funny. Nice isolated place, beautiful views… on any other day this could almost be a good place to visit. Nezzy muttered around the knife, eyeing Joseph as the medic prepared to heal him.
I suppose. Maybe. Joseph mused, placing a palm over the wound. The tricky part was he had to reopen the wound before he could regenerate the flesh. You dont think we should be here?
Hell, you know what I think? Nezzy began, tilting his head back against the wall. Joseph sent a surge of mana down that cracked the circular burn, vaporising the welts and disfigurement done by the bolts. Nezzy slammed his head into the cabinet in attempt to block out the pain, biting determinedly into the hilt. Deftly, Joseph manipulated the mana structure and began reforming the destroyed muscle and tissue. Within seconds all that remained of the wound was a discoloured patch of new skin and some slight scarring. The warknife slid out of Nezzys slack mouth.
You know what I think? He repeated breathlessly, glancing down at the healed wound. It dont really matter what I think. Once that first claw or bullet goes by your head, holidays and family and all that just goes right out the window.
Joseph grinned and applied healing gel liberally over the new skin. He finished by pressing a length of magical gauze over the gel and patting Nezzy on the shoulder.
No heavy lifting. Id recommend a few days off…
They both laughed at the insanity of the situation.
Fey stared menacingly down the barrel of his Vepr, poised just above the mans forehead. Aliyah covered him from slightly further away, her shotgun lax in her hands. At least, for the moment. Gemina had made sure that the technician Neil was safely with Joseph and Nezzy before getting down on her haunches next to the once devastating figure. Using her helmets flashlight, she checked the mans eyes before looking at his chest.
Who are you?
A gurgling reply was all she got.
Give me a name. Who are you? She persisted, turning her attention back to the mans milky grey eyes. She was pretty sure he would live, the man was just weak because of the concussion of the mana discharge. The mans head lolled to one side and he coughed, sending blood splattering over the tiles.
The sooner you tell me, the sooner well patch you up. Gemina reasoned, leaning over on her rifle. The man mouthed something but she could not hear.
Pardon? She struggled to pick up the mans feeble voice.
The grizzly, hardened face of the man turned to stare into her eyes.
Youre names Sawyer? What the feth is going on?
What? Shadow, what?
But the warrior had finally passed out. Fey sighed and lifted his weapon clear of the mans head.
Damn. Medic! Joseph!
Then Thirty-six years ago
Darkness melted into a terrifying mosaic of daemonic flames that leapt overhead, burning embers that licked greedily at the unyielding masonry all around him. A kaleidoscope of fear, pain and chaos danced in front of his eyes, the sound of death echoed everywhere, the smell of despair lingering in the stagnant air.
The cry stabbed at him from nowhere and everywhere. The child looked pitifully around, jostled by a sea of unforgiving bodies that bruised and battered his already weakened frame. Suddenly, the ground shook with such magnitude that several dozen unemotional people collapsed wordlessly, crushed underfoot by the dozens more of lifeless souls rushing about with the look of anguish burning deep in their eyes.
A disembodied hand reached out from the human waves and gripped his worn tunic. He spun around, his face cast in the shadow of the inferno and saw salvation at hand. A pale woman with acknowledgement flashing across her features scooped him up. He peered up into her face. His mother.
His eyes flew open and they tried to focus. He blinked as he felt rain pummelling his face. He looked and saw not his mother but Anni leaning over him. There was relief plastered over her teary or rain abused face. He coughed and managed to sit up. What was going on? He felt a dull pain in his hands as his fingers found his helmet. The rest of his platoon were somewhere close, he could hear their voices trembling in gratitude. Where was he? The landing pad. The dropship. The rope. The fall.
Oh feth. He croaked, a hand patting his chest.
Ossyria! Chief, you gave us a scare. Tough as a rog you are. A voice remarked.
We knew you werent going to give up without a fight.
A fall cant kill ol Ganz.
The sergeant managed a smile. He gave an approving look at the medic Anni.
I owe you one.
Feth, get us through this alive and consider it repaid. Anni replied, grinning as she packed up her medikit. Ganzicus nodded and stood up shakily. He gazed wondrously at the fiercely loyal men and women of the Maple Elite Strike Unit Lambda. He could tell they were smiling, even though their helmets were on. A bad start now probably meant things were going to good to even up the scale. In the back of his mind he wondered where the Steel Wing had gotten too.
Through the fizzy pink glow of the coming dawn, the urban camouflaged dropship arced gracefully above the temperate waters. It had stylised: Steel Wing over an emblazoned silver wing on the sides of the cockpit that was usually tinted grey. At the moment, the tinted grey was stained with an ominous dark red. A smoke trail of bluish hue was being coughed out of the engines but the pilot did nothing. Warning runes squealed in protest and data screens beeped insistently but the pilot did nothing. All the pilot did was hang slackly forwards, restrained by his harness. Surprisingly Flight Officer Vincent was not dead. Indeed the seven inch KA-BAR knife had entered his head and there was a profusely bleeding wound to show it. His spine was cracked and he could not move. All he could do was watch, expressionless as the engines failed and the Steel Wing took its last journey, swooping down to greet the mysterious dark waters.
FEAR Prologue: Ambient Wonder
FEAR Chapter One: Trace Amounts
FEAR Chapter Two: Opening Suite
FEAR Chapter Three: Dust and Echoes
FEAR Chapter Four: Perchance to Dream
FEAR Chapter Five: Blow Me Away
FEAR Chapter Six: Lament for Pvt Imppala
FEAR Chapter Seven: Under Cover of Night