Date: November 25, 3008
Location: Somewhere on the Ocean of Ossyria
The blackness closed in, bringing with it death and despair. There was no wind to interrupt the silence, only the terrified beating of the seven hearts in the room. My S-36X2 hung limply at my side, still hot from its recent fury. Spent bullet casings littered the floor like tiny drops of gold.
Sweeping my flashlight around, I aimed the beam of white light on the broken hinges of the doorframe. The metal had been ripped apart with extreme force. Whatever this assassin was, it was insanely strong. It had taken two blades and thousands of bullets to bring it down.
“Let’s go,” I muttered quietly with my back turned to the group. Not really caring if they followed or not, I stepped back into the dark labyrinth of corridors. I heard the shuffling of feet behind me as I left the room.
“Nova,” a gruff voice called out. I continued walking, ignoring his pleas. “Nova, wait!” He put his hand on my shoulder and I instantly whipped around, coldly staring into his eyes. His beady black eyes twitched in hesitation before he replied, “Let’s split up, we’ll cover more ground that way.”
Without waiting for me to reply, he turned around to the rest of the group, “Alright, Lily, Maldran and Michael follow me. Naz, you can lead Felix and Nova.” He turned back to me, “We’ll take the first level while you guys take the third level all the way down at the bottom of the ship. Meet in the second level in exactly two hours copy?” I nodded stolidly, not showing any emotion. Mikhail’s eyes softened, trying to reassure me. He leaned closer and whispered into my ear, “We’ll find him, don’t worry.” And with that, the four of them stalked off into the shadows, leaving the three of us to fend for ourselves.
“Well, let’s go,” Naz said as he brushed past me in the opposite direction Mikhail had gone. Felix gave me an uncertain look and followed the Shadow Templar, leaving me to guard the rear.
We walked in the shadows, our boots clanging dully off of the metal floor. Every step I took was stifling. The air around seemed to close in, trying to suffocate us inside of this horrid ship. Despite the intense coldness, I felt the first beads of sweat slide down my face.
“F*** this…” In irritation, I unzipped my combat vest and threw it to the floor as we walked. The bulky outfit landed noisily on the floor, making Naz and Felix whip around, cocking their rifles at me. Ignoring them, I unzipped the jacket and threw that aside as well. A rush of cool air met my bare skin now as I stood there, wearing only the issued combat pants and boots, and my black tank top. Noticing Felix’s eyes wander, I pushed past him and continued on without a word.
After a while of wandering around in the dark passage ways, my mind felt a slight pinging sensation, as if an internal beacon started to call out. Either that or a time bomb had been set off in my mind.
You feel that? I thought into Naz’s head.
Yea, it’s coming from our left, he replied and led the way. I raised my S-36X2 to my shoulder and cautiously followed. Behind me, Felix swept the back with his flashlight; I could feel the edginess in his heart increase.
The pinging grew louder now; it sounded like someone was hitting a hammer on an anvil. I tried to tone it down by listening to Felix’s footsteps behind me. They were dull and thick, unlike the high pitch the incessant noise was making. He traveled staggeringly, as if one of his legs had been injured. I half heartedly wanted to turn around to inquire about this but my ears suddenly pricked up. Felix was making two sets of footsteps.
Whirling around, my eyes tried to make out anything in the shadows that was behind me. Felix flinched in surprise at my sudden motion. “What is it?”
The pair of footsteps continued, slowly growing louder and louder. It seemed to be walking. Suddenly, it stopped, bringing silence back into the blackness. Coupled with the end of the pinging, the atmosphere seemed to drop a few degrees. I felt Naz’s mind freeze as well.
“What is it?” Felix repeated in a hushed voice as he looked at me with fear etched in his eyes. I held up my hand to silence him. Pricking up my ears, I tried to decipher all if any noises coming from behind him.
“Mikhail, come in,” Naz whispered into his communicator. The silence ensued for another moment before being broken my Mikhail’s rough voice.
“Are you on the third level?” Naz asked suspiciously as he eyed the darkness ahead.
The communicator buzzed restlessly in my ears before. Then, I felt a cold clamminess overwhelm me as Mikhail replied.
The corridor was suddenly engulfed in multiple feral shrieks. High pitched screams of claws on metal tore at my eardrums, snapping me back to reality. Felix looked behind in panic, “Let’s go!” For once, he was right.
We sprinted down the hallway, adding our footsteps to the cacophony that chased us. Twisting and turning in random directions, I felt the animalistic thoughts of whatever was coming die down, but their screams still lingered in the air everlastingly. Whatever they were, they were not human.
Then, without warning, one of them sprang out of the shadows directly in front of me. It bared its fangs as it soared through the musty air towards me. But just as I raised my rifle to end its life, I saw a gleam of steel sweep in front of me, and the thing exploded in mid air, its two pieces falling gorily to the floor. With my mind, I had managed to deflect most of the innards and guts, but the hallway itself was not so lucky.
Looking past the crimson stains and splashes, I finally saw the creature as I aimed my light at its decapitated body. It was borne on four legs and was the size of a Hector. However, the head resembled that of a dragon with two jaws, one inside the other. It seemed oddly familiar.
“Come on, Nova, let’s go!” Naz’s voice brought me back into the black hallway. The screeches of the creatures and scratches of their claws upon the steel plating drew me in a hypnotizing manner. Amidst the animalistic roaring, there was a distant yet audible human voice.
Our footsteps carried us forwards as we somehow made our way back into the boiler room. To my horror, the fires within the boilers were ablaze as if they had not been out of commission at all. Putrid wisps of smoke curled under my nose, making my nostrils flare out in disgust. We sprinted past the huge coal feeders as sweat poured down my face like rain.
Suddenly, an explosion rang through the large room. Without turning to look, I focused my mind behind me and realized the door had just been blown off of its hinges. As the metal sheet clanged to the ground in a cacophony of sparks, the hounds from hell tore in with only one thing on their mind. We were in their killing fields, in their territory. Survival was not guaranteed.
A sharp burst of fire felled a few of the dogs nipping at our tails. Felix was spraying wildly behind him, only adding to the random pandemonium already taking place. But amidst the terrible barks and snarls, I still felt as if I heard a humanoid voice calling out to me. Distant as it was, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling of guilt run down my spine.
Pushing all of that to the side, my mind did a double take as the door up in front burst open, unleashing a flood of its own zombie dogs. The three of us screeched to a halt; I instantly brought my S-36X2 to my shoulder and took aim. In front of me, Naz sheathed his bloody blades and drew both of his S-2000X Slain Pistols out of his side holsters. Felix was already blasting away at the incoming horde from the rear.
The first of them sprang through the air, baring their fangs menacingly, ready to tear rabidly at our flesh. Immediately, I opened up, plugging the nearest airborne animal in the chest cavity; the force of the S-36X2’s supersonic bullets drove it back in mid air. Its broken corpse fell to the ground in a sickening explosion of guts and innards. Naz started to fire away, each of his bullets lodging exactly in between another dog’s eyes.
“Nova!” Felix screamed over the roaring fire of both the weapons and boilers in the room, “Need some help here!”
I whipped around and slammed the butt end of my rifle down upon another beast’s skull, feeling it collapse into its brain. Felix fired another volley into the ocean of attackers, but they just kept coming in an endless horde. The fires of the coal feeders flared brightly, lighting the killing field with mysterious dancing silhouettes.
Suddenly, one of the dogs got past our line of fire. It caught my rifle in its jaw as it forced me to the ground. Grunting in disgust, I instantly dropped the rifle from my hands and instead, fastened a tight grip around the thing’s neck. In a swift motion, I swung it around, hitting and breaking its legs on the steel boiler, and then flung it into the raging fire.
As the carrion disintegrated with a howl, I picked up my fallen weapon and returned to blasting away at the mindless intruders. No wait. That was not the word for them. We were the intruders, and they were the defenders. In hell, evil was king. There was no place for the good and righteous.
Filling another body with hypersonic lead, my gun suddenly protested in anger, letting out a series of panicked beeps indicating an empty clip. I ejected the magazine and before it hit the steel plating, I slammed home a new one. Locking and loading, pointed the barrel of the rifle into the sea of death and fired once more.
A head snapped back sickly as black blood sprayed into the air in a mist of shadows. Another’s legs were cracked in half by incoming pieces of lead, the owner stumbling clumsily to the ground in angry gnashes. At this rate, we actually seemed to be winning.
“Nova,” Naz’s voice jerked my head back towards the bow of the ship, “We can’t stay like this.”
Nodding in agreement, I slowly inched my way backwards while firing into the rear. Somehow, Naz had done a considerably well job at keeping his forces at bay with his two automatic pistols. How he was doing it was beyond me. The thought of a Shadow stronger than me made my mind wince. It was not something I liked.
After thousands of spent shell casings and bullets, we finally made our way out of the boiler room. The way was clear up ahead as Naz plugged the last zombie head with a bullet. We scrambled up the stairwell to the bridge as our bullets tried futilely to keep the dogs away. Their screeches were horrible in my ears. It felt as if someone was trying to pierce my eardrums with a hot metal spike.
Emerging back on the bridge of the ship, Felix slammed closed the door as he fell through. A second later, the creatures slammed their bodies into the steel door, but the ancient locks had prevailed, effectively locking them in.
The storm outside did not want to cease at all. Lightning lashed out ominously and thunder rumbled over head. The knight of the apocalypse had come and we were stuck out at sea. I looked at my wrist map. Amidst the green square grids, I could see the three blue dots representing our bodies and the mass of red just on the other side of the door, roaring and howling in a combined rage.
Looking out, I took a moment to purge my mind of everything. The raindrops pelted the roof and windows of the bridge, but it felt rather soothing compared to what we had just escaped from. Out in the waters, I could see whitecaps slam into the decrepit hull of the ship. It was only then that I finally noticed the slight listing to and fro that the ship made with each impact of the ocean’s swells.
A harsh bang snapped me back. My mind left its dreamlike state and returned to the bridge of the ship, where the dogs were only moments away from penetrating the door’s hinges. Already, the metal bolts were bending awkwardly on their foundations. I looked at Felix and he nodded instantaneously. As Naz opened the door, I felt a blast of freezing air as well as the lashing rain. We sprinted down the stairs just as Felix pulled the pin of his fragmentation grenade.
As my feet hit the flooded deck, a gargantuan explosion ripped the top of the bridge off just as the door fell, letting the horde of zombie wolves into a cage of fire and twisted metal. The wintry gale and deathly cold downpour felt refreshing as they slashed at my skin.