Ancient Research Facility
Offshore, West of Ossyria
24th April 2042
0510 Local Time
The fist slammed into the counter for the third time, sending a stationery container tumbling to the ground. Wolf glanced casually at the agitated Jackal who was swearing profoundly at the camera screens. His knuckles raw and stinging from his abuse of the desk, Jackal slammed his size fourteen steel capped boot into it instead. Reclining in the swivel chair, Wolfs attention drifted as Coyote appeared in the doorway, drawn in by the noise Jackal was making. She threw a quizzical look at Wolf.
Somebodys overriding the system. And he cant figure out where from. Wolf explained, waving a hand at the console.
Jackal, violence isnt helping anyone here. Coyote admonished, wiggling a finger. Jackal paused and exhaled sharply, glancing vehemently at Coyote. He pushed away from the counter to give the woman a clear view.
Hey, I majored in geospatial information. Not technology. Thats your field.
Well, look anyway.
Jackal stabbed a finger at a particular screen showing a partial blueprint of the research facility.
Somebody has bypassed the ISS codes and activated some power generators that I cant for my life find on the fething schematics! Theyve started some ancient protocols and are in full control of the system. I cant penetrate through this shield wall thats been setup. Feth, this cant be the MSND. They aint tech heads.
Wolf reviewed each screen in turn. Half of them were the results of Jackals attempt to hack into the system. A grid of hexagons shifted across the screen, blatanly flashing some error code called: Shield Wall Type 000.
Maybe its those new arrivals. Wolf suggested, half-heartedly scrolling down one of the blocked screens.
I have no fething idea whats going on here. Were fething locked out of the fething system Jackal snarled, standing up. This was supposed to be a pushover. Get the info and GTFO. It doesnt help that Dog didnt make it. He added.
Wolf shuffled uncomfortably. Their access via HALO High Altitude Low Opening, in the stormy weather had been hell. Crosswinds had lashed them the moment they popped the hatch. Dog was the first out and first to experience the rush of a suicidal jump. Even the simulation tubes did not replicate such a challenge as the jump they had undertook. Dog had almost instantly gone into a wild spin in all directions, tumbling through the sheets of rain and ghostly clouds. In a panic, he had desperately struggled to find the cord to deploy his parachute. Still some five kilometres from the landing zone, the unreflective grey parachute had blossomed and was immediately caught by a fierce crosswind, jerking the stunned Dog some three hundred metres off target. By this time, Coyote was already free falling and with everyone concentrating on their own safety, they had not realised that Dog was missing until the rest of them were all safely gripping onto the research stations architecture.
With this recent complication it was going from hell to worse. They needed to extract all available data files and codices from the arcane research facilitys systems and with unexplainable delays occurring, it was enough to irk anyone, including the usually passive Coyote.
So were deadlocked? How much data we have already? Coyote asked testily.
Almost a petabyte. That around… Jackal paused, calculating. Around two percent, rounding up.
Feth, were behind schedule here. Coyote exclaimed unhelpfully.
And you think you could do better? Jackal scoffed, kicking the counter half-heartedly. Wolf ignored their banter and leaned over the console, typing in some commands.
Hey guys. He began but was drowned out by a rising tide of swearing and abuse.
Jackal! Coyote! Listen up! He screeched, snapping his fingers. They stopped and looked ashamedly at Wolf.
The main system may be locked out but there are specialist terminals all over the facility, probably for the old techpriests or supervisors or whatever they had back then to access data. Im figuring we can use them to extract the remaining forty-nine petabytes of intel. So quit squabbling like newborns and start acting like professionals!
Right, Wolf has the idea, so get off my back!
Shut up Jackal. You werent helping.
Wolf rolled his eyes as the argument began again in earnest.
Level Seventy-Four: Quarantine Chambers Delta Level
Silence is lousy. It is lousy for the desperate man cracking a joke, it is downright rotten for a newcomer entering the room, and it is double triple quadrilateral abysmal for a battle scarred dog-trooper like Imppala. Using his helmet light to guide him, the soldier slowed as he reached a three way intersection. The weak light panned left, revealing a nondescript hallway with protruding bulkheads, similar to the other fifty-seven bulkheads that he passed earlier. He turned his head right, illuminating another hallway that he swore was identical to the left one. Imppala sighed painfully, subconsciously raising a hand to feel his chest. He figured he had broken at least two ribs, he could tell that much from the soreness emanating from his chest. It did not help that he reeked of blood too.
Just minutes ago the mircobead had burst into a frenzy of activity and from the sounds of things it appeared that Lieutenant Gemina was in a firefight. At the current moment the link was dead and Imppala was unsure whether this was a good sign or a bad sign. He would have inquired if not for the fact that there was blood residue congesting the mircobead, frequently shorting out the connection. Grudgingly he trudged to the right, only because he vaguely remembered coming from that direction, although he was not sure. You tend to forget your surroundings where there is half a ton fething invisible werewolf hunting for your blood. Pain lanced through the left side of his chest again and Imppala stumbled inadvertently, supporting himself against the wall. He needed a medic or the sheer agony would render him unconscious if not dead.
His bloody hand pushed off the freezing metal wall, leaving a sickly red reminder of his presence. Imppala was not sure if he could survive another encounter with the wretched daemons of this place. His beloved FAMAS was shredded; so hanging slackly from his improvised shoulder strap was the deceased Corporal Jenkins flechette shotgun that had saved his life. He had managed to scrounge some of its shells from an ammunition pouch that had been spared from the Corporals remains. There were eight shells loaded in the flechette shotgun and a satisfying weight in his thigh pocket held twelve more. Once they were expended, he would be down to his trusty dirks that, in his current condition, would be hard to wield.
There was a pneumatic hiss and Imppala felt the temperature drop, as if a blanket of coldness had enveloped the corridor. In fact, as his gaze lowered, it revealed a placid rolling mist spreading at ground level over his feet. His eyes snapped up and in the receding darkness he detected the faint outline of a reinforced hatch swinging up. That was where the mist was flowing from. But there were something odd about the mist. The way it slithered, animalistic and predatory. It was like the mist was alive. Feth.
Ossyria! Give a man a fething break.
Racking the shotgun, Imppala swung it up and aimed unsteadily at the encroaching mist. It seemed to sense his aggression and it rose up, forming an uncanny resemblance to an ethereal blue dragon turtle. It gave a non-vocal howl that chilled Imppala to the marrow.
My heart bleeds. Imppala replied evenly, staring down the abomination. Deep inside, he wondered how he could even damage mist. He was not a mage, he was a fething warrior. Stuff this magic crap!
Man, Wizet has never had monster designs of this quality before. He snorted before turning around and dashing back the way he came from. Running away from a crazy, fething improbable monster. Déjà fething vu.
Level Seventy-Five: Command Module and Workstations
The grizzly warrior repeated, staring straight into Lieutenant Geminas eyes. Medic Joseph had done his job admirably, and under the supervision of Fey, the intruder was relieved of his weapons. Now the healed man was sitting cuffed to a workstation chair.
What do you mean Sawyer? What fething organisation is that? Gemina snapped, pacing around him. Fey sat on the bench directly in front of the bound man, Vepr firmly trained on his skull. Sawyer managed a weak grin. Fey jumped up and socked him in the face with a nimble right.
Whats so funny feth face? Damn, we got a medic so I can feth you up again and again til you stop acting all high and mighty.
Fey, stand down. Points for effort but we need to do this diplomatically.
Hes got fire, he does. Sawyer noted, rotating his bruised jaw. I say Shadow because its an umbrella term. Shadow Foxes, Shadow Guard, Shadow Templars, Shadow Fire, Shadowjutsu. The list goes on.
Right, so youre from one of these guilds? What are you doing here? Gemina asked dubiously, throwing a look to Aliyah, a non verbal order for her to check it out. The engineer nodded and pulled out a data slate from her musette bag.
Well, we aint selling cookies.
Fey jumped up again but Gemina pushed him back down. Sawyer looked from Fey to Gemina and back. The Lieutenant just raised an eyebrow.
Maam, you have to realise the significance of this place. Evil lurks here. You shouldnt have believed that you could use the information in here for good. It isnt just some power game. You people keep underestimating evil.
Information doesnt choose sides. The data here could advance us by years. Gemina cut in.
Advance you to your destruction. You werent here back then. You didnt see what they did. You chose to ignore the past and in doing so, repeat the past. You believe that the ends justify the means. That intelligence comes at a payable price. Sawyer continued.
Youre one to talk. Were here because you decided to go raid the place. Talking about the disregard of life? You hypocrite! We have over fifty personnel working here. Dont come and talk a load of feth to me!
Youre not here for the data? Sawyer was genuinely surprised.
Were here for the people. Thats our duty. To stop people like you trying to make a quick meso by stealing classified and sensitive information. Feth, thats why I do this. To make the world a better place.
But if youre not… Who is? I wonder… Sawyer mused, looking away. Gemina stopped circling the chair and squatted down to his height.
What? Youre going to be hypocritical again?
Never! Were here to destroy this place. To rid that evil for good! He shouted that with such passion that Gemina really thought he was telling the truth. That or he was a good actor.
Lieutenant! It was Aliyah, waving her over with the data slate. Gemina strode over, glancing back to make sure Fey was keeping to himself. The ambient light of the slate gave her face a greenish hue. Aliyah scrolled down the screen.
Index of all known guilds
Circa 001.042 M2
Context: Linked together
Results: 1 15 of 22
Shadow Alliance Status: Incarcerated
Shadow Ancients Status: Active
Shadow Blades Status: Destroyed
Shadow Custodians Status: Destroyed
Shadow Fire Status: Active
Shadow Fire II Status: Incarcerated
Shadow Force Status: Active
Shadow Foxes Status: Destroyed
Shadow Guard Status: Destroyed
Shadowjutsu Status: Active
Shadow Killers Status: Incarcerated
Shadow Lords Status: Disbanded
Shadow Soldiers Status: Active
Shadow Spectres Status: Incarcerated
Shadow Templars Status: Active
Lieutenant Gemina looked up from the screen and met Aliyahs concerned eyes. For a moment there was fear lurking in Geminas mind as the thought of a possible two thousand plus force inside the research station but her rationality saved her. Most guilds shown on the screen were either incarcerated or destroyed and the fact that there was only one ship that the saw in harbour outside meant it was probably just a quick response team like them. Well, at least his story kind of checked out, Gemina thought before turning her attention back to Sawyer.
Well, looks like youre telling the truth about the guilds I mean.
He twisted his head around.
I havent lied so far.
Not for you to say. That could be a lie right there.
Okay, how about as a proof of trust, Ill call out my commander. Truce. We both have similar goals. You want to save the people by getting them out of here. I want to save people by stopping the hell in here being unleashed.
Gemina considered it, tapping her hand on the back of the chair. They could do with some help and they seemed alright. In the worst case, she had a hostage.
Level Seventy-Four: Quarantine Chambers Delta Level
Mother nature says: sloooow dowwwwn!
He swore the corridor was just getting longer and longer like some cruel illusion. Imppala gasped for breath as he eyed the passing bulkheads warily. Like some sort of race, every bulkhead began flashing a coloured light, the speed the process over taking him. Most were red and the doors remained sealed, saving him from whatever horrors lay inside. But every now and then
There was a shrieking squeal of metal on metal as a green rune lit up. That particular bulkhead was about twenty metres ahead of Imppala and he could see the actual locking bolts start to retract.
Not my day. The private grimaced, sweeping up his flechette shotgun to target the hydraulic arms and fired at point blank range. There was a screech as sparks erupted from unseen mechanisms, shrouding Imppala momentarily as he continued his sprint down the otherwise dark passageway. The bulkhead remained shut. Somewhere behind him, he dared not look, the mist blue turtle dragon gave another unworldly growl that shook his diaphragm.
It was not that his legs were getting tired but the wound in his chest was killing his respiratory system and soon he would not be physically able to flee. Coughing up bloody phlegm, Imppala stumbled momentarily his vision swimming. The suddenly a new shape broke the monotonous continuality of the corridor. A service elevator.
Half-diving, half-collapsing, Imppala threw himself into the elevator, slamming hard into the lift wall. Coughing up more blood, he propped himself up and wiped his mouth. There was no mist yet. Confidently, he stabbed the activator of the lift. Nothing happened. Imppalas eyes widened in disbelief.
You have got to be sh-
With a tremendous whirl, the engine started, cogs pulling at chains, drawing the elevator up.
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
FEAR Chapter Eight: Dread Intrusion