This is CheesyPuffs99's first attempt at a Gears of War story. Criticism is welcome.
The author has recently changed the story from just following the events of Gears of War 2 to centring on both games instead.
Gears of War: Bloodbath is by CheesyPuffs99. This story focuses on the events of Gears of War and Gears of War 2, but it is told from the perspective of a previously unheard Carmine brother, Dale.
This story contains scenes of extreme violence, gore, strong language and some romance. If any of these offend you, the author advises you not to read Gears of War: Bloodbath, or skip these parts.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Retribution is the preparing and the detonation of the Lightmass Bomb. It takes place during Gears of War, told from the perspective of Dale Carmine.
I walked down the dirty streets, kicking trash and soda cans around. I bit my lip, stopping for a few seconds. I glanced at my teammates over to the east, which were climbing into buildings and reaching into windows. I didn’t know many members of my squad – they all wore identical C.O.G helmets, but I was only told that one member was named Rick, or something. Being a newbie was pretty hard, and it was even more so when I was put randomly into Alpha-Ten as soon as I joined the C.O.G.
I had three brothers: Anthony, Benjamin and Clay Carmine. We were all unique in our own special ways, I guess, but we were never hailed as heroes. We were just average brothers. Anthony was killed in a way which I still desire to be aware of – the C.O.G hasn’t told me a thing. Benjamin is my little brother – he was a little nervous at joining the C.O.G (admittedly, I was too) and not necessarily the greatest soldier when it comes to reloading, but he’s an enthusiastic lad nonetheless, making a fresh change from all of the gruff, emotionless soldiers I was usually teamed up with. Clay – well, I don’t know about him. He joined the C.O.G before Anthony and I haven’t heard of him since, though I know he’s still alive. He’s the toughest of all four of us; if anyone could survive tons of Locust ambushes, it’d be him.
The sky was predominantly a soothing cream colour, endless clouds floating here and there. The dying sun cast a bright orange spell on the streets, lighting the corpses strewn about everywhere. I had only just realised the bodies – obviously an intense bloodbath had occurred at this exact location some time ago. I let out a sigh as I cautiously examined the reptilian-like face of a Locust Grenadier, scrutinizing the brutal splodges of arterial liquid which indicated where it had taken several shots. Shells remained shining on the solid, stone-covered pavements. I bit my lip again before continuing my stroll down the deserted streets for a few seconds prior to turning an immediate right. I climbed over the window of a building and sighed, examining the area for any possible ammunition or discarded supplies, just to be on the safe side. There was a mirror leaning against a brick wall, accompanied by cobwebs and splatters of blood. I turned to and peered into it.
Staring back at me was a quite tall man with neat, spiky black hair. The man had the normal C.O.G uniform, which shone a bright azure, illuminated by the evening sun’s solar rays, however, he despised the C.O.G’s default helmets available for him to wear – they simply restricted his vision; not a very handy thing during Locust encounters. The man’s face was smooth, and he wore baggy trousers, or pants; whichever way you wanted to call them.
I climbed back out of the window again and continued my walk down the streets, letting out a deep sigh.
Alpha-Ten and I were tasked with locating a squad which had mysteriously gone missing, Gamma-Eight. Their last chat with Control had been at this very street in Ephyra. I wasn’t sure what one of my squad members was doing; he was going around and pulling strange necklaces from all the human bodies he could find. I had one, but I knew that they were sent to the families of those that wore them after they died. Perhaps the owners of the necklaces were members of Gamma-Eight?
I could barely hear my teammates talk to each other as I progressed further into the deserted streets, occasionally picking up Lancer clips from the remains of the Locust grubs.
“You bastards have nice corpses,” I smiled as I glanced at Locust bodies flung everywhere. I would commit no other act than grinning at the Locust corpses, but I couldn’t help but grimace over the remains of Gears splattered everywhere. Was this war ever going to stop…?
A sickening clang spontaneously resonated through the air. As it echoed through my ears, I crouched down low, pointing my Lancer up to the sky. I bit my lip again, cautiously examining the streets about me for enemy movement, if any. Maybe a stray dog had caused the noise, but I was to expect the unexpected. From the corner of my eye, I could see my teammates sprinting towards me. I froze as they approached, two of them forcing fresh ammo clips into their Lancers.
“Hey rook,” a soldier said to me, tapping my shoulder with his hand. I could hear him breathing heavily through his cerulean helmet. “We got some grubs comin’ down this way, back from where we came. You’d better reload.” He strode off, holding a finger to his ear. “Control, this is Alpha-Ten, do you read?”
I gulped and fixed my eyes on my Lancer. The Gear didn’t have to wait long before a soothing voice responded to him. “I read you, Alpha.”
The soldier hesitated for a moment, tightening the grip on his Gnasher Shotgun. “It seems that a huge battle or something took place here.”
“Copy that,” the voice replied. “Any news on Gamma-Eight?”
He glanced at the many necklaces around his neck which he had collected. “Well, if I’m right…they were all killed.”
“Oh…I’m sorry to hear that,” the woman speaking depressingly sighed. “Hold up a second; Colonel Hoffman is coming online.”
The Gear hesitated before a gruffer, old voice spoke to him through the Tac/Com. “Alpha, you’ve got new orders.”
I gulped, shaking my head. New orders? I thought we were done here.
“We need you to assist Delta Squad in deploying the resonator at the Lethia Imulsion Facility since the area is too hot for our birds. You’re going to have to find them and a mode of transport to the Imulsion Facility. Is that clear?”
The Gear speaking to him nodded. “Yup.”
With a gruff ‘then get to it!’ from the other side of the Tac/Com, the man glanced at his teammates and sighed. “Looks like we’ve got a new mission. We need to first locate Delta Squad and help them in detonating the sonic device.”
I softly cursed under my breath. Who were in Delta Squad, and what was the resonator? Questions were racing through my mind, but as a Gear, I had to proceed with the task.
I noticed my squadmates walking around before a low-pitched bellow resonated through the streets. I perked my head upright almost immediately, and cursed loudly after what I saw.
A large group of Locust were charging down the streets from where we had come, raising their firearms high in the air and chanting fearlessly.
“Ah, S***!” I heard one of my squadmates cry.
“Locust!” screamed another. They ran towards several abandoned cars scattered around the streets, taking cover behind them. I followed one Gear to a scarlet car tipped on its side, embedded with dust and cobwebs.
A wave of bullets flew over my head as I took cover, covering my ears as the Locust bawled with confidence. The Gear next to me trembled with fear, holding his helmet in his hand. I peeked out of cover to see the Locust also taking cover behind cars and building remains ahead of us. Further away behind them, I could see a colossal hole in the ground with grubs pouring out of it.
“There’s too many of them!” the soldier next to me replied as he took several bullets to his leg. I could tell he was frustrated, pulling the trigger of his Lancer like there was no tomorrow.
Deciding to give the Locust a piece of my mind, I stayed out of cover and shells poured out from my Lancer Assault Rifle as I pulled the trigger. I noticed a Drone leap over the block which he had previously taken cover at; he was soon enveloped in our bullets, leaping to the ground after clutching his chest and spilling blood from his mouth.
“One dead grub!” I grinned as I reloaded my weapon. As soon as my Lancer was ready, I fired a lot of bullets at several more Drones attempting to kill my allies. Many fell as they unwittingly got in the way of my Lancer’s wave of bullets. I noticed one Grenadier clutch his leg as he endeavoured to crawl away from the battle. “Hey, where are you going?”
I withdrew a Boltok from my shin and fired at his head, which pinged clean off. A wave of crimson liquid gushed over his body.
“Nighty night!” I smiled at my excellent kill. Or at least, I thought it was excellent. I returned the Boltok and grabbed my Lancer again.
A Gear taking cover behind a dark emerald car to my left stood out of cover, swinging a spiky grenade and aiming to throw it over to the enemies. He lobbed it a few metres and alerted us of the situation. “FRAG OUT!”
A colossal explosion occurred, and as I leaned out of cover, I could see Locust guts soar high into the air as a result of being in the deadly frag’s blast radius prior. The sound of lead pinging still reached my ears, and I just wanted the Locust to die already.
I placed my Lancer atop the tipper over car, keeping my head low. I pulled the trigger, blind firing at the opposing Locust. I held my head in cover completely so as to prevent possible headshots from snipers, if any. Better to be safe than sorry.
I felt something odd touch my shoe and soon discovered that it was a smoke grenade. I gasped, rolling backwards. The force of the grenade pushed me a few feet away, and I struggled to rise. It seemed that the Locust were winning, for when most of the Drones were killed; more simply rose from the Emergence Hole.
I heard an arrow strike somewhere near me, followed by an explosion. I quickly comprehended the fact that a Theron Guard had fired it. More of the scarlet-armoured guards rose from the Emergence Hole and took cover, some blind firing their hazardous Torque Bow arrows.
“Therons!” the Gear near me shouted as I took cover at the same car again. Suddenly, a horrific stab quickly thundered through my ear. “NO!”
I swerved to the man standing next to me and gasped at the sight. A Torque Bow arrow had pierced his stomach, and within a millisecond he simply blew to bits. The explosion flung his insides at me, and I was soon engulfed with his body parts. I let out a groan of discomfort, wiping organs off of me as the bottom of the man’s body fell onto its knees. I felt sorry for the Gear, but I didn’t want to be next.
“Fall back, fall back!” several of my teammates stormed. I followed them in dashing away from the massacre. Obviously a few dire casualties had been taken and my comrades had decided retreating was the best thing.
The surviving members of my squad, around five or six Gears, were lobbing smoke grenades in front of them, if they had any. Clouds of smoke rose into the air, making it hard for the Locust to shoot us whilst we made our getaway.
We turned a street corner and charged down the road. I felt my heart pulsating madly as I ran and constantly checked behind me if the Locust were definitely pursuing us or not. Luckily, it seemed that they weren’t.
As my teammates ceased running to catch their breath, I did too. My lungs demanded air due to my sprinting, though they were steadily getting used to these kinds of issues.
When we were sure that we had escaped the Locusts’ wrath for definite, we slowly walked down the dirty road. Though we had turned a street corner, there was still a lot of evidence present of a huge battle taking place in this city. There were cars chewed apart, some lying on top of deceased human bodies. Corpses were thrown about here also, piled on each other. Children, men and women were scattered across the nightmarish roads and inside buildings, usually twenty feet away from their rotting limbs.
“What the hell happened to this place?” one of my squadmates inquired, peering up into the heavens. The sun was setting. Soon, night would fall.
There was an eerie silence until another Gear spoke.
“Alright, we need to take shelter for the night.”
He pointed to a huge building to the north, sighing. “We can rest for the night in that library. There’s no way in hell we’re getting past the Kryll at night.”
All of the Gears charged forward towards the building, soon dashing through the library’s doors. I was one of the last to go in as I took one last glance at the horizon and what sacrifices were being made right now before stepping inside.
My squad comrades had shoved cupboards and desks over to the entrance door of the library. We had also tagged the walls with frags, so the first few Locust charging in would be killed instantly. The Locust could easily blast their way through the doors, but not without making an explosion to warn the sheltering Gears to flee the building via another exit.
There were countless bookshelves around the library – I was surprised that this place had been barely touched by the Locust. Though the books were gathering dust, many of my squad members were taking some of and reading them as if they were brand new. There were some about Seran religions, geographic textbooks, mathematical booklets, and more.
“Well,” a Gear grinned subsequent to snapping a dusty book shut. “Why not do something other than reading these geeky books for entertainment?”
“What do you suggest we do right now other than wait for night to pass?” I asked him, raising an eyebrow.
Shrugging, he replied, “Oh, I’m not sure – maybe we could sit down and chat or some’ink.”
“Hey, that’d be a good idea, actually,” somebody said. “We could talk about what we’ve achieved before the Locust came.”
We all did agree that it was a good idea to pass the time. We grabbed some chairs and stools and sat around a circle, the only light being the flickering bulb above us.
I took this as an opportunity to introduce myself and discover the personalities and likes of my friends. We all shared memories of each others’ pasts and stories of our dangerous encounters with the Locust during Emergence Day and after.
Due to us all not really knowing each other, we all introduced ourselves. The first man to speak was a young Gear wearing a do-rag in addition to a Hammerburst strapped to the side of his C.O.G armour and a Snub beside his hip-pack.
“M’names Zack Stone. I used to be a stranded,” he sighed.
“You a conscript?” I asked.
Zack hesitated for a moment as if I’d offended him. “W’yeah, I didn’t have a choice, ‘unce I took that Lifeboat thing. M’family got three ration cards…”
I could tell in Zack’s voice that he was a nervous Gear. I didn’t really blame him.
A different man, Sergeant Jason Courts, spoke up. He wore the C.O.G helmet in addition to the obvious usual C.O.G uniform. “Damn, well at least you’re family’s safe. Everyone I’ve ever known and loved went after E-Day.”
I assumed ‘went’ was a less dramatic word than death for him. His preferred weapon was the Gnasher, and he was the one who had spoken to Colonel Hoffman prior to the Locust attack.
Two more of my squadmates remained, so they introduced themselves as Maximilian Marsh and Michael Rojas. Max and Mike both wore C.O.G helmets, and revealed that they were good friends, having survived many Locust ambushes due to their unique teamwork.
“Who was that Gear I saw getting killed by a Torque Bow?” I asked Courts, whom was sitting next to me on a warm stool.
“Oh, that was probably Frank Williamson…”
There was a stunned silence for a moment until Max spoke.
“Okay, I think we should be getting some shut eye,” he yawned as he wandered over to a window. He peered through it and gasped at what he noticed. Huge swarms of Kryll were flying everywhere, desperately looking for humans or Locust to snatch from the midnight streets that stepped carelessly into the bleak darkness. “And it looks like the Kryll are out. From what I can see, there are no street lamps on, so the Locust are going to have a hard time waltzing in here.”
“Okay, then. Dale, you keep watch for the first hour or so,” Courts commanded as he and the other Gears slowly made their way to collapse at the bookshelves close together and fall into a dimension of dreams.
I bit my lip, wondering if I really could keep watch. Even though Maximilian had assured us that the Locust couldn’t get in here easily, he didn’t say there weren’t any propane tanks nearby, which, when shot, would provide light. A solitary Wretch could find its way in here through another entrance perhaps or maybe some Locust had sneaked in this huge building and were hiding in the upper levels.
Sighing, I withdrew my Gnasher Shotgun from my back. It was currently replacing my Lancer as my main weapon, though I did only use it at close ranges, preferring my Boltok for medium-range and using my Longshot to snipe Locust from afar.
I made my way to a large bookcase of my own. I sat down, wiping the sweat which rolled down my brow with my dusty black gloves. Placing my Gnasher aside, I glanced above me at the many floors and staircases of the library.
The place was almost completely silent now. Zack was snorting the loudest, Jason was snoozing quietly, and Max and Michael were gurgling, all lost in a void of their own imagination. The air was cool and it seemed like tonight would be surprisingly free of any horrendous screaming or strident gunfire.
I ran my fingers down a large, smooth, emerald and burgundy mat which reached from where I was sitting to the end of the large hall. As I did so, a past event resurfaced in my mind – an event which took place on Emergence Day that I had tried to forget for so long…
There was a man walking with a younger, slightly shorter young adult. They were both around twenty years of age and occasionally kissed each other as they walked across the park. They walked around swings, benches, slides, and more, the boiling sun shining gloriously on them as if accepting the couple and warming them greatly. The girl was very beautiful, and her blonde hair was quite long and slim. The man had gelled-up, neat black hair, and his smile was glistening with amazement. Around them were fields and dog owners chasing their pets as they dashed around playfully.
It was a time of peace on Sera then. If only it were the same now…
At least, the scene was peaceful until a small quake shocked through the ground. The male stumbled a little, and shook his head, shrugging off the small shake of the earth. However, the quakes became more continuous, and spontaneously, behind him, a loud crumbling noise was heard. He turned around and gasped at what he saw.
Many strange, bipedal creatures were rising from a colossal hole in the field of the park. They were bellowing and seemed to withdraw some kind of guns from their backs, opening fire on everyone in sight. The female beside him screamed with terror and broke into a sprint to flee the scene. The man, not wanting her to get into trouble, chased after her.
The attackers charged through the streets of the city, shooting people down and kicking them. The man noticed a boy fall to the floor, helpless and injured. He bit his lip, hesitating for a few seconds before spinning his head around in all possible directions. No sign of his girlfriend. He cursed loudly and helped the child up before the kid slowly gained the energy to join the wave of fleeing citizens.
The man joined the child in running away from the scene, and the unfortunate people at the end of the group of citizens were left behind and the attackers soon caught up to them to finish them off.
I snapped back into reality, breathing heavily after the horridness of the memory. I glanced over at my teammates lying near each other. All of them were asleep, save for Jason, who wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
I leapt onto my feet, grabbing my Gnasher Shotgun. I soon found him pulling a book from a bookshelf, rubbing his eyes, behind my original position.
“I didn’t see you get up,” I remarked, walking to him slowly. I tried to whisper, not desiring to awaken my sleeping comrades a few metres away. If I made a loud noise, I’d probably wake them up.
Jason turned to me for a second, and then returned reading into the same book he had taken out from the bookcase. He wiped dust off it before turning a page. “You were drifting off a little, yourself.”
He glanced up at me again as I asked him a question. “Can’t get to sleep?”
He shook his head, placing the book back. Stepping away from the bookcase, he placed his hands on his hips. “There’s a lot of interesting novels about the Pendulum Wars here,” he smirked. “I’m quite surprised that this library is still here, knowing that a huge battle took place outside on the streets not long ago.”
I had to agree with him. Most of the other buildings in the streets outside had been levelled or at least majorly damaged.
Spontaneously, there was a loud clang resonating from the upper levels of the library. I tightened the grip on my Shotgun, perking my ears up. The clang hadn’t woken up Zack, Max or Mike, surprisingly. Jason nodded at me as he broke into a sprint for a milky white staircase. I followed him to the next floor, cursing under my breath.
There was nothing more than plain old bookcases, much like the main hall. This floor was smaller than the hall and was overlooking it. I shook my head, placing my weapon on my back again.
“What made that noise?” I asked Courts. He didn’t reply; not like I’d expected him to.
There were strange, heavy breathing noises nearby that greeted my ears all of a sudden, accompanied by another clang. I zipped past a bookcase and slowly examined what was happening in front of me.
There were four or so Stranded humans glaring at me, each with slightly tattered clothes. Most of the men wore a cap, a ripped shirt and jeans, save for one – a female.
She was in her mid twenties at least, with a face like it had been crafted by angels. Her eyes were stunningly bright emerald, and her long, dusky black hair reached almost down to her hips. She was wearing somewhat cleaner clothes than the other stranded, though they were still torn. Her crimson dress, dried blood and dirt specked across it, fell down to her chocolate-coloured shoes.
The woman seemed to be struggling to heave a huge Gatling gun, not to mention shoving belts of ammo into it. As soon as she noticed me staring blankly at her, she gasped with surprise and horror, dropping the weapon with a massive CLANG.
I stopped staring at her beauty all of a sudden.
“Oh my God,” she clasped her hands to her mouth. “Oh my God, you’re alive!”
She wrapped her arms around me, squeezing me tightly. I had no clue who she was, frowning a chuckling Jason.
“Who the hell are you?” I asked as she drew away from me. She looked stunned, shaking her head slowly.
“I’m Jess,” the woman replied, holding a hand on my shoulder. “Jessica Gyules? Don’t you remember me?”
“I’ve never seen you before in my life,” I sighed. She was very beautiful, and I didn’t want to upset such a pretty person. She cursed, turning away from me. As she walked away, I could have sworn that she had shed a few tears.
“What are you doing here?” Jason asked, shouldering his Gnasher.
“Could say the same for you,” a man replied, hands on his hips. This caused Jason to sigh loudly, shaking his head.
“We’re here taking refuge for the night. Tomorrow we leave on an important mission,” Courts replied. The Stranded shrugged, lifting the Mulcher slowly over to one of the bookcases nearby.
“Well, that’s okay, then. The Locust will come early in the morning, so you’d better leave at the crack of dawn.”
“What? The Locust are coming here? To this library?” I inquired.
“Oh, yes,” he nodded. “We know they’ll attack us after the Kryll piss off. They saw us hide here yesterday accidentally, but the Kryll came out so they couldn’t do anything about it right at that moment. It’s obvious they’ll send in some Locust patrols to make sushi out of us when the sun rises. That’s just how the Locust roll.”
“We’ll help you take them out then,” Jason immediately spilled out after she had finished. The man flinched at first, but then smiled.
“You can if you want to, but don’t think we’re going to be all nice and helpful to you. We’ve got to survive for ourselves.”
And with that, the male strode off with the other Stranded out of sight up another staircase to the far north.
“So we’re helping the Stranded now, are we?” I turned to face Courts.
He nodded. “I honestly don’t think that we’re going to leave before the Locust get here. Besides, it’ll be fun to kill some grubs again, won’t it?”
“Not if more of us die, it won’t. When’s the sun comin’ up?”
Jason tipped his head sideways for a moment. “Not sure. But if they’re getting ready for hostile assault now, then it may become daylight in a few hours or so. We need to wake the others.”
It didn’t surprise me that Stranded were hiding inside this library. They were all hiding in many places around every street, desperate for survival. Maybe this library hadn’t been destroyed in the past battle of this street because it was guarded by these Stranded; they wouldn’t have given up their shelter easily. If so, however, then they’d have to be pretty tough.
Who was that woman, though? She’d just come and hugged me tightly as if she hadn’t seen me for years.
Courts had fled downstairs to wake up Zack, Maximilian and Michael whilst I walked over to the staircase that the Stranded had darted up. The highest floor of the library was not what I had expected it to be.
It was overlooking the main hall like the previous floor, and I could peer over to see Jason waking up the other Alpha-Ten members. What really made the floor interesting, though: rather than dusty books placed in bookcases, there were guns – C.O.G guns.
There were more Stranded on this floor – around twenty or thirty. They had obviously scavenged weapons and equipment from fallen Gears. I noticed the same woman in the slightly torn red dress chatting to a bald man wielding a Snub. The woman herself had a C.O.G tag in her hand.
I strode over to the two, ignoring the many people gluing their eyes to me. I took two or three glances at the many taken C.O.G firearms before the woman ceased talking to the bald man and turned to me.
“Like what we’ve done? We’ll eat the Locust for breakfast, with or without your help,” the bald man finally stated, leaving us two on our own.
I nodded, believing his statement.
“Why did you just huge me earlier?” I inquired.
She bit her lip furiously, slightly moving away from me.
“I-It w-It’s a long story. I-I can’t…”
“Whose tags are those?”
“Oh, for f*** sake! Is this twenty questions or something?” she snapped, holding the tags to her side, even though I only asked her two. I raised my hands in the air, scoffing. “Just-just get out of here. Either that or get down those goddamn stairs and prepare yourselves for the Locust attack.”
Jess stormed off again until she disappeared in the group of Stranded.
I’d gone down to the first floor and rejoined my squadmates. Maximilian was heavily breathing through his azure helmet, as was his best friend Michael. Stranded were taking positions for the future firefight, hiding behind sandbags which were placed at the edge of each floor’s balcony.
“You taking sniping position?” Jason asked me, smacking his Gnasher as if it were jammed.
“Definitely, man,” I replied, grasping my Longshot with pride, its scope glowing an amazing sapphire.
“That’s good, then,” one of my helmeted friends said. It was hard to tell Michael or Max apart, save for Michael’s younger voice. In this case, the voice was deeper – belonging to Max. “Jason and I will take cover beside some bookcases down on this level. If all turns to hell, then we’ll retreat to the upper floors.”
With one last sigh, Max strode off somewhere. Jason walked over to and sat on a creamy yellow chair.
“You said you had a girlfriend?” he asked. I walked over to him slowly, shouldering my Longshot.
“Yeah...she was called Marie. Why?”
“It’s just…” he shrugged. “Well, you seem to like that Stranded woman a lot now.”
“Yeah, she does remind me of my first girlfriend…” I replied happily. “She’s pretty stubborn, but hey, pretty much all of the hot chicks nowadays come with kickass attitudes.”
Jason grinned, displaying his gleaming incisors. I turned my head in all possible directions to find where Jess was, but she wasn’t on the first floor, at least. In fact, not many Stranded were.
Zack ran up the milky stairs to the second floor, Hammerburst in hand. Michael soon followed, a Smoke Grenade in his. It would obviously be daylight soon. The Stranded were placing more bookcases here and there as extra cover, and I noticed Jess at long last lifting a Mulcher onto the sandbags on the second level.
Minutes had passed until the daylight had arrived. Jason was the first to realise it – the amazing rise of the gargantuan gassy sphere known by us as the sun – the banisher of the Kryll. However, it couldn’t banish the Locust.
A while had passed after that and no Locust came. I strode up to the second floor and took cover behind one of the sandbags at the second floor balcony, placing my Longshot on top of it. I peered down into the main library hall, with Max and Jason hiding behind a bookcase near the main entrance. They were well away from the blast radius of the frags we had still tagged on the entrance door.
Jess was to my far right, feeding her Mulcher Chain Gun belts of lead to be fired at the opposing Locust once they had infiltrated the library. Not once did she ever look at me; she just fixed her eyes on the only way inside the building.
There were Stranded hiding behind the bookcases and sandbags, and, as a matter of fact, one was sitting next to me now, reloading his Lancer Assault Rifle.
There was an eerie silence until we heard an ear-splitting BANG against the entrance door.
I ceased glancing at Jessica dreamily and peered into the scope of my Longshot. The door was continuously being slammed, and the cupboards and other furniture we had previously placed to block them out were cascading to the ground, sending a wave of splinters and shards of glass into the air.
When it was suspected that the Locust had given up, the door sprung feet forwards, broken and twisted after a huge explosion.
“OPEN FIRE!” Jason bellowed as the enemies slowly made their way into the library. A blanket of lead was thrown over them, and some were engulfed in the blast our tagged grenades emitted. The ground shook a little, indicating that large Locust forces were blasting their way through. The Stranded on the bottom floor where slowly being killed; ripped to pieces by the Locust’s deadly bullets.
Jason was firing round after round of his Gnasher as the Drones drew nearer. They took cover at the bookcases the few dead Stranded had hidden prior, propelling a tsunami of shells at us via their blood-stained Hammerbursts.
I peered over my sandbag, a loud crack sounding as I shot a bullet at a Drone’s neck. Red liquid spilled over its collapsing corpse.
“Back in your baby hole, bitch!” Michael screamed from the top floor.
The sound of a Torque Bow humming greeted my ears. I shoved a fresh shell into my Longshot and called out to the others, “THERONS, WATCH THEIR ARROWS!”
Indeed, the scarlet soldiers had arrived, forming a line and aiming their Torque Bows – specifically at the top floors.
Jason pumped Shotgun shells into a Sniper’s shin as it strayed too close to him. “Got another!” I kept my whole body in cover whilst a Theron fired an arrow. Whilst it reloaded, its head disappeared in a gush of blood as steam emerged from my Longshot a second later.
“DIE, GROUNDWALKERS!” a much deeper, louder voice stormed. Charging through the library door was a massive brute – much bigger than an average Drone – with a huge, rocket-launcher like weapon.
“Boomer!” Max worriedly cried as he fired into the stomach of a nearby Grenadier with a Gorgon Burst Pistol. The giant fired a rocket from his Boomshot to the floor I was on, though he hadn’t aimed for me.
The Stranded next to me was caught directly in the blast of the deadly weapon, his organs and innards spewing from his stomach which, along with the other remains of his body, was flying high into the air. I was knocked aback by the blast, hitting my head on my sandbag. My Longshot suddenly slipped out of my hands, cascading from the balcony and clattering onto the first floor loudly.
“Ah, damn!” I shouted with anger, knowing that I couldn’t retrieve my friend. Jess was still spraying bullets from her Mulcher like there was no tomorrow. I hesitated for a moment; my Gnasher was no use to me now. Either I had to go down there and blown the Locusts’ heads off at a closer range and retrieve my Longshot whilst I was at it, or just fire from the second floor still with my Boltok. The first option seemed best.
I sprinted down the white stairs and Jason looked at me as if I were an alien. I took cover beside him, searching the area for my Longshot. It didn’t appear to be anywhere.
“S***!” Max cursed as his Gnasher jammed. He cried in pain as he was kicked to the ground by a Theron. I quickly reacted, pulling out my Boltok and firing into the hideous creature’s hip. It howled in pain and fell dead next to an injured Maximilian Marsh.
A bellow from the same huge Locust brute from before convinced Max to leap to his feet and dive to cover. Books flew here and there after he had fired another rocket. I couldn’t see him, but could tell that he was moaning in discomfort as a hailstorm of bullets rained down on him somewhere.
I peered out from the bookcase to find that a massive emergence hole was just outside the library, and the Locust didn’t cease rising from it. Dashing past the newly rising Drones were familiar, nimble monkey-dog-creatures…
“Wretches!” a Stranded warned us, groaning as his Lancer refused to eject bullets for him. Some of the peculiar creatures zipped right past me and climbed up to the second level, hissing and screeching deafeningly. It was then when it hit me.
Jess was on the second floor. Plus, if all of the Wretches were ganging up on her and all she had to defend herself with was a heavy Mulcher…
I immediately broke for a sprint up the staircase to the second floor again, grabbing my Gnasher. I heard a scream as I reloaded and almost fell over after what I saw.
Three Wretches were dragging Jessica in circles by their claws and teeth, snarling malevolently. I fired at them aggressively, and they slowly exploded into nauseating piles of flesh. One Wretch had managed to rake Jess’ head, blood pouring out from these lesions. One kick was all it took and it scurried away out of sight before I could kill it.
I darted over to the poor woman in an effort to help her, but she was already unconscious. I cursed under my breath and held my hand to my Tac/Com. “Jason, how’s it goin’?”
“We’ve got some more Boomers on their way, that’s how it’s goin’!” he yapped. “Max has retreated upstairs and there’s some Flame Grenadiers advancing on my position!”
“Alright, I’m coming, sit tight. Carmine out.”
Yes, talking through the Tac/Com when we were just floors apart seemed a little bit silly. I hesitated, cursing as I felt stupid running down and up floors.
“I could have sworn I heard Wretches on this floor…” Michael suddenly appeared to my right, having jumped down the marble stairs which lead to the top floor. The sound of gunfire still rang in my ears.
Without a second thought, I gently left Jessica onto the ground. “You look after her whilst I help Jason!” and with that, I plunged headlong down the staircase to my left and into the massacre.
Jason was really struggling. He was still taking cover behind his bookcase (which was absorbing most of the bullets being chucked at him), but there were way too many Locust for a single Gear to handle. I found a Lancer on the floor, gleaming desperately for an owner. I switched it for my Gnasher Shotgun and found myself blasting the Locust as fast as I could with the Assault Rifle.
I found a bookcase of my own to take cover behind, peeking out and exterminating the Drones that were dumb enough to fire back at me. A Sniper managed to dig some bullets into my shoulder, causing me to wince in pain.
“F*** this!” I barked, equipping a peculiar grenade with my uninjured arm and lobbing it to the crowd of Drones. “Ink out!”
A poisonous cloud spilled over the battlefield, causing the pale humanoid pests to collapse, clenching their throats in agony. Most of them were killed after the cloud had evaporated, leaving a Theron Guard to take control of the last few Drones.
“Die, sapiens!” the Theron hissed, preparing its Bow to kill some Gears. It shot its arrow at my bookcase, causing it to explode into splinters.
I cursed, running over to take cover next to Jason’s own bookcase. I was surprised it had lasted this long.
I then heard the roars of Scorcher flames, and gasped as the opal fires reached into the air. The Flame Grenadiers were approaching, ready to burn any Gear caught in its way.
I pumped bullets into one of the tanks on a Flame Grenadier, causing it to vanish in a display of fireworks. I was enveloped in its guts just before I could reload my Lancer.
Suddenly, Maximilian came charging down the stairs to our floor, Gnasher in hand.
“Dale, Jason, you get out of here! Run!”
What the hell was he doing? He was running straight at them…whilst he managed to take some out, more simply rose from the Emergence Hole outside.
Cursing, Max ran outside and turned to the hole and the Locust emerging from it. Jason pushed me away from the scene before I could gather what was going on. An explosion occurred, and a Gear’s screaming echoed in my ears…
I collapsed onto the marble stairs, completely knackered. My lungs were demanding huge amounts of air. I sighed with relief as the sound of gunfire was no more.
But where was Max, and what had he done…?
Fear is a peculiar thing.
If you had searched its definition before the Locust came in, say, a dictionary, you’ll undoubtedly find its meaning is like ‘a phobia of something’. I don’t know anything or anyone who is fearless. It seems that the whole of Sera has been positively blinded by this sort of feeling ever since the Locust attacked on E-Day.
If you ask me or anybody else’s definition of fear, they’ll say one thing: the Locust. More terrifying than spiders, more horrific than a scary monster in a scary movie. The Locust Horde is the definition of fear, in a sense that they deliver fear. They deliver fear as soon as you catch a glimpse of them. I’ve known this for a long time.
It was noon. The Sun was at the highest point possible in the cloudless, azure sky. As for the library – well, it was in almost complete ruin. Stranded bodies piled on top of each other and on bookcases, viscera decorating the walls. Pale bodies of the Locust were buried beneath books and rubble.
Jason stood in the middle of the hall on the first floor, examining the corpses of the fallen Locust soldiers that had participated in the battle. He perked his head upright as I walked over to him, folding my arms.
“What did Max do back then?” I asked sharply. He didn’t answer for a while, scratching his arm vigorously.
“He’d had enough, knowing that there were too many casualties,” he retorted. “Maximilian Marsh went out and lobbed a frag into the Emergence Hole, killing himself and the remaining Locust. That’s what he did back then.”
Max killed himself to stop the battle? Why would he do that? The thought of him sacrificing himself suddenly whirled inside my mind. It was a little depressing, yet I was grateful for him ending the conflict to prevent any more deaths.
I’d made my way up to the second floor when I realised that Jess was awake. Michael was in some kind of conversation with Zack a few feet away from her. As I approached, she noticed me and grinned.
“Hey,” I said softly. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I just got thrown off Mount Kadar,” she chuckled. “Nah, I’m fine.”
Jess fiddled around for a bit with her hands, until she looked up at me again. Her pink face definitely bought back memories of my first ever girlfriend – Marie, whom I had of course lost on Emergence Day.
“C’mere, saviour…” she wrapped her arms around my neck, and I could have sworn the next few seconds of my life were some of the best I’d ever had.
Jess had locked lips with me, moving her hand up to the back of my head. I was lost in a connection of love beginning from my mouth and ending at hers. I hadn’t known this beautiful woman for a huge amount of time, but I didn’t care. The sensation was overwhelming, and we quickly joined hands as the last few seconds ticked by.
Eventually, she drew away from me, her eyes shut. When she opened them, I stared blankly into her emerald eyes. Never before had I seen any so amazing.
“I owe you a lot for saving me,” she winked. “When are you leaving?”
“Um…” I struggled to answer, lost in a dreamy world. She clicked her fingers in front of my face, and I snapped out of my trance. “Soon, but…”
“B-But I don’t want to go with Alpha…to be honest, I’d rather stay here with you.”
“W-Why is that?” she asked, grabbing my hands in her own cold ones.
“It’s because I’ve always wanted to see my first girlfriend again…and you remind me exactly of her.”
“No, you go with your other Gears. They need you more than I do. One of them just died for you!”
I hesitated for a second, unaware of how to respond. She was right, though – Max had given his life so I could get on with my mission with the rest of Alpha-Ten…
Without a word, I shrugged, and she turned away from me. My Tac/Com fuzzed as a wave of static entered my ears.
“DC, you comin’ or what?” Jason’s impatient voice came through. Without a second thought, I walked down to the first floor, watching Jessica get further and further away.
What had once been the library entrance door was now just a massive hole in the wall. I couldn’t take a step towards it without squelching on Locust remains. I halted several times before I finally got there, unpleasant thoughts and memories taking complete control over my mind.
I was completely and utterly torn between my squadmates and Jessica Gyules – I knew that the latter didn’t need me the most, but the feeling of being right near her and getting reminded of Marie was amazing.
How long would it be before the Locust killed me and everyone else I knew? What if locating this ‘Delta Squad’ was some kind of suicide mission? What would Jessica do if the Locust invaded just like before again?
I had snatched a Longshot from a fallen Sniper as I made my way out of the building, along with its glowing carrot-orange goggles. I had placed these around my neck along with my brother Anthony Carmine’s C.O.G tags.
The surviving Stranded had arrived as we were leaving, thanking and bidding us farewell. The sun was beating down on my vulnerable neck as Jess had said goodbye to me and my friends.
“Don’t get yourself into any more dangerous fights with the Locust, okay?” I smiled at her; she didn’t grin back though.
“You should have seen it when they rolled the Brumaks in to attack these streets…” a Stranded man chuckled, wearing torn clothes and a cap to keep his head safe from the heat of the star above. “Then again, we had hundreds of us Stranded, not to mention loads of Gears with us…”
With that, we were off. My Longshot and Lancer sat on my back as I walked down the road, taking one last look back at Jess. Zack, Michael, Jason and I were all that remained of Alpha-Ten, walking into the distance and out of sight from the Stranded.
Sergeant Fenix cursed under his breath as all that emerged from his Snub Pistol after he he held the trigger down was an unsatisfying click. The Cyclops chuckled deviously, revving its perilous Chainsaw Bayonet in an attempt to saw the man in half.
Marcus quickly reacted, propelling a kick into his enemy’s stomach, soon equipping his own Lancer. The two weapons were raised into the air and a horrifying screech sounded as both of the Chainsaw Bayonets locked in a Duel. A second later, the groundwalker’s Bayonet had eaten away at the Cyclops’ flesh and all that remained of the Locust was a disturbing pile of its entrails.
“Nothin’ beats sawing Locust S***,” he smiled, shoving a fresh clip into his Lancer. He spun around to check on his teammates.
“Snipers!” one man called out from within the building, cursing as his Boltok became low on valuable ammunition. A bullet zipped past Sergeant Fenix, missing his neck by half a breath, convincing him to take cover against a wall. He blind-fired with his Hammerburst out from the large window of the building, keeping his head low down.
“HELL YEAH!” another Gear roared from upstairs. “YOU S***-ASS BITCHES ARE GOIN’ DOWN!”
Dominic Santiago peeked out from behind the sofa and examined the scene outside. The Locust were mercilessly charging down the road; not like he hadn’t seen it about a thousand times since Emergence Day.
“Baird, flank ‘em!” Fenix commanded over the Tac/Com.
“Yeah, I got it already, S***head!” came the rude response from the man blasting the Locust from outside over the Tac/Com. Dom shifted over to the left and slammed the door of the building shut to prevent any more Locust storming in; it’d been kicked open by the Cyclops prior.
“Listen,” Zack whispered, holding two fingers up in the air. “Is that more gunfire I’m hearing?”
I chewed my lip, listening for any particular noise which stood out. I did indeed hear bellows of twisted agony and rage, and some humans who were cheering with victory.
“Over this way!” Jason assured us, darting to the west with the rest of us hot on his heels. After turning a street corner, he swore at what he saw.
There were four Gears stepping over rubble and mutant remains, collecting ammunition from their fallen enemies. One of them spotted us, and with a quick whisper to his friends, so did they. We slowly walked over to them, the sun beating down on us like hell.
“We’re Alpha-Ten,” Jason remarked. “Here by request of Hoffman to assist you deploy the resonator at the Imulsion facility.”
“No Sh**!” a blonde man shook his head. “Well, I hate to burst your freakin’ bubble, but we don’t have a f***ing clue how to get it down there.”
“The area’s too hot for Ravens,” another man said, also wearing a do-rag much like Zack, though it was a deep black colour. He shouldered his Lancer, glancing at the other members of his squad. “Well, this seems like a convenient time to introduce ourselves.”
A huge black Gear kicked the crushed head of a Theron away, clapping his hands. “Private Augustus Cole, baby!”
“Dominic Santiago; just call me Dom,” another man said.
The Gear with the do-rag (no, not Zack) nudged the blonde man right in the ribs to get him speaking. He winced in pain, his eyes shut. “Damon Baird…and this gitface here’s Sergeant Fenix, of course.”
After we’d introduced ourselves, we walked away from the battle Delta Squad had just been in, Michael falling behind.
“So how are we going to get to that damn facility then?” I asked Fenix, who was wandering ahead of me. He rested his hand on his shoulder, peering back at me with deep eyes.
“Don’t worry; Dom’s got some kind of plan to get us there, right?” he then turned to the Latino walking beside him, receiving a nod.
“Plan? What plan, you don’t have a f***ing plan! Just talking bullS***…” Damon snarled behind my back.
“Oh, go to hell, dumbass,” Dom responded, glancing once over his shoulder to the unenthusiastic blonde man. Zack, Michael and Jason just walked without a single word
We continued to walk down the streets for seemingly ages, and the sun melting our necks sure didn’t speed up the process. It was obvious that Dom had some kind of plan but he wouldn’t spill it out; I wasn’t bothered to ask him anyways. Baird was very enthusiastic for the journey indeed.
The sun was dying slowly. Dom continued to lead us corner after corner without a care in the world, not checking up on us to see if we’d suddenly died of heart failure. Marcus caught up to and chatted to him occasionally, and the Sergeant would then look back at us and scowl at Baird.
“It’s gettin’ late,” Marcus called over his shoulder as he peeked into a cracked shop window.
“Doesn’t mean to say we won’t run into some Locust S***heads to dance with, baby!” Cole chuckled.
We eventually arrived at some kind of settlement. There was a large metallic gate as we turned a street corner with a Stranded sitting on top of it. He seemed to be drunk, waving his hands about and rocking idiotically.
“Dominic Sant-a-go!” he called as Dom approached him.
“Dammnit, you’re always as drunk as hell, Pete,” the Latino responded harshly. “I need to see Franklin.”
“Yeah, well no S***, you always wanna see him, silly goof!” he spun his fingers around his ears like a car’s spinning wheel. “Well, whateva. M’sure ‘ell be happy to see ya.”
Soon, the gate had opened with a screech. Dom lead us in, shaking his head in response to the drunk Stranded chuckling and pointing at him.
“I’m going to kill that bastard,” he cursed as we entered the settlement.
There were many large buildings and some dirty houses, with children dashing around playfully. Stranded men and women were moving boxes and supplies to these different houses. Some Stranded sat outside their houses gloomily; others were warming themselves by roaring opal flames.
Trash littered the filthy roads as we followed Dom through the settlement. He seemed to know the place by heart, though he did stop sometimes and twiddle his finger in the air. The Stranded had glued their eyes on us as if we were aliens. To them, we might well have been.
Dom walked over to one of the houses with us in tow. Sitting outside the home was a black man with tattered clothes and some crazy dreadlocks, two other Stranded men behind him.
“Hey, Franklin, how’s it going?” Dom asked him. Franklin rose from the steps in front of his home, shaking the Gear’s hand.
“What brings you here, Santiago?” Franklin smirked. “You run into a lotta trouble as a Gear?”
“I need your Junker, man.”
Franklin looked as if Dom had kicked his puppy. “What the f***, man? You don’t come stormin’ in here, askin’ a guy for his ride, yo!”
“Um, we didn’t storm into this S***hole, FYI,” Baird scoffed. “We actually walked in.”
“What’s a Junker?” Michael inquired, shrugging. Franklin, instead of answering the question, locked furious eyes with Damon.
Dom jabbed a finger into the Stranded’s arm repeatedly, quickly getting his attention again. “You owe me one, big time! Gimme that f***ing Junker now!”
The Corporal’s fury was enough to immediately get Franklin to surrender. He held his hands up, chuckling. “Fine, don’t get all fatass on me, man.” Dom held out a hand, and Franklin reluctantly dropped some keys into it.
“Can someone just tell me what a Junker is?” Michael repeated his question nervously.
“It’s a piece of crap, but we can drive it to the Imulsion factory or whatever the hell it’s called,” Dom replied, gesturing us to follow him walk down the road again away from Franklin.
“Hey, Santiago, hold up!” the Stranded called back to Dom. The Latino turned around, sighing. “Those four gotta stay here, man,” he pointed to Baird and Cole first and then lastly Michael and Jason, grinning deviously.
The blonde and ex-Thrashball player froze, swapping looks of bewilderment.
“Sure thing,” Dom replied to Franklin. He called to me, Marcus and Zack to follow him down the road to the north, and so we did.
Nightfall was very near. The sun had almost completely vanished over the horizon.
“Where are we going, Franklin?” Dom held a finger to his ear.
After a fuzz of static, the Stranded’s voice came through. “Levarne’s at Chaps Gas Station, Corner of F Street and 13th. S’lotta Locust on the way there, so you’d better watch out for them, and probably the Kryll as well. You dig?”
“Yeah,” Dom replied.
“Why don’t we just head out tomorrow? The Kryll are going to be out soon…” Zack nervously remarked.
“Don’t worry, as long as we stay in the light, we’ll be fine,” I assured him. “Now let’s go find that Junker.”
I didn’t have a clue where Chaps Gas Station was, so I just followed Dom without hesitation. There were propane tanks here and there, so if we couldn’t get the Junker before night fell, we could shoot the tanks to provide light and swiftly move through the streets. The Kryll hated light, which, of course, we used to our advantage.
As we walked through the streets, picking ammunition from dead Locust corpses we found, a loud rumbling sound met our ears, followed by crumbling, and lastly hissing.
“Multiple contacts!” Dom yelled as he dove for cover behind a tipped over car. I joined Zack in hiding behind some sandbags in the middle of the street as an emergence hole appeared over in the distance.
“Drones!” Zack warned us, clear disdain in his voice. “Now it’ll take us f***ing ages to get to that Junker!”
He rested his Lancer on the sandbags, blind-firing a wave of bullets over the battlefield. I slid the sniper goggles over my eyes, peering into the scope of my Longshot. As a grub leapt out of the hole, he soon found himself collapsing into its depths, missing a head. Scarlet liquid poured over his comrades as they hissed and bellowed with rage.
“It won’t take that long if we flush these bastards out quick!” I replied, another crack resounding from my sniper rifle. A Theron Sentinel barked in agony as it watched its leg wash away from its body in a tsunami of blood.
“C’mon, you d**kheads want some o’ this?” Marcus bawled as he forced more ammunition into his Snub.
Wretches suddenly sprung from the hole, charging ahead of the Drones and Grenadiers.
One strayed too close to Dom, leaping over the car he was taking cover at. The Corporal quickly reacted, grabbing his Gnasher and swinging it around the Wretch’s head like a golf club. He noticed a spiked grenade find its way to him having been thrown through the air, and he dove out from the blast radius, rubble and dirt spraying over him.
As we fired, we hardly noticed the sun completely disappearing…as soon as it did; it bought forth a terrifying, bleak world of darkness. Kryll suddenly burst out from nowhere, searching for fresh meat; human or Locust.
I immediately reacted, pulling out my Boltok from the strap on my leg. A propane tank was nearby; I shot it quickly, flames bursting out from it. It lit the area including near Dom and his car, Marcus and the bench he was hiding behind, and of course the sandbags in front of me and Zack. I pulled my goggles over my neck again. The Kryll, however, had managed to sink their fangs quite deeply into one of my arms, tearing a little chunk of flesh from it. The light banished them, but I winced in pain at the injury.
As for the Locust – well, they weren’t near light at all. The nocturnal, bat-like creatures swarmed around all of them, dragging out their intestines and sawing around their necks. Locust stopped emerging from the hole, for any that jumped out would be inevitably consumed by the hungry Kryll.
Thousands of the Kryll were screeching and flying above us. I glanced at my stinging arm; I thought it was a small injury at first, but obviously there were more than one Kryll attacking it. There was quite a large gash, with blood and pus pouring out from it. I sighed, and Zack gasped loudly after examining my wound (surprisingly, he hadn’t received any injuries). To think, it only happened in a second – I couldn’t begin to think what would happen if I stepped out into the wilderness for longer.
“Damn, that looks painful,” Dom remarked as he wandered over to me. “You okay?”
“Couldn’t be better,” I replied quickly. “It’s just a little bite…”
“Trust me, the Kryll are the last things you want to get bitten by.”
The Gear took out a bandage from his hip-pack and wet it, bringing it over to my arm.
“Sorry man, this has gotta be cleaned properly…” he said as he did so. I winced as the liquid met my injury, though the pain wasn’t completely unbearable. I endured it, chewing my lip.
Soon the Corporal had wrapped the bandage around the bite mark after pulling out a small tooth very carefully with his fingers. He frowned at it before lobbing it into the night.
“Baird, Cole, everything okay on your end?” Marcus asked over the Tac/Com.
“Hell yeah, baby! They’re makin’ us some kickass dinner!” the former sports star called back happily.
“F*** their S***ty meals!” an unsatisfied Damon’s voice came through. “You guys had better hurry up and get us outta d**kville ASAP.”
“This bastard won’t ever shut up!” Jason chuckled, also joining the conversation.
“Not all of us are having a good time adjusting, y’know,” Cole assured us.
“Well, it seems that you’ve got matters under control – or, most of you anyway. Fenix out.”
Dom rose from the ground after treating my injury, soon pulling out his Lancer and shooting a propane tank in the distance. Zack quickly followed him, accompanied by the Sergeant.
“Shoot every propane tank you seem from now on. We need the light,” he commanded us. I examined the remains of the past meals of the Kryll from a safe angle, grinning at Locust ribs and organ tissues lying on the stone-covered ground.
We continued to wander into the night, listening to the cries and shrieks of the bat-like enemies soaring high above us…
“The hell is that over there?”
Zack’s sudden call pulled me to consciousness as I examined him leaping across the street followed by Marcus and Dom. They approached some kind of small figure under a street lamp; what was it?
“Holy S***, it’s just a little kid!” Dom gasped in surprise as he made his way over to it. Indeed, it was some kind of child – a boy, to be exact. He had curly hair, which was even more blonde than Baird’s, and pink little ears. His clothes were mostly dirty and ripped, and he was about, what, ten years old?
“Heh, yeah, let’s try to keep the cursing to a minimum in front of him,” I remarked as I followed them towards the boy. The areas around his eyes were deep crimson, possibly from crying.
“What’s your name, kid?” Dom asked, peering into his eyes. No reply. The boy just sat on the ground, glancing into the wilderness. “…Okay, I guess he doesn’t like to talk much.”
“Can’t blame him,” Marcus sighed, scanning the streets. “Stranded still don’t trust us Gears.” He spun around to face Zack and pointed to him. “Alright, here’s the plan: Zack, take this kid back to the Stranded settlement. Dale, Dom and I’ll go get the Junker.”
Zack nodded, and the boy, almost as if he’d heard Marcus exactly, followed him without question down the road from where we had come.
“Why the hell is a little kid just sitting out here?” I asked Marcus, frowning.
The Sergeant shrugged. “I don’t know. Something must have happened here. That doesn’t matter right now though; the kid’ll hopefully be safe with Zack. All we need to focus on is getting that Junker.”
Granted, it did take us a while, but we finally made it to Chaps Gas Station. The place was just like an ordinary gas station really – pumps, trash littered here and there. The only vehicle there though was a large, black-like APC, but stripped most of its armour and C.O.G needs. There was a thin old man; almost bald, shaking his head and waving to us mockingly near the pumps.
“Yeah, yeah, over here, stupid bastards!” he called. We slowly made our way over to him, though he was still blaming us when we got right near him. “All thanks to you, there’s Locust everywhere! F***ing stupid Gears…”
“Where’s the Junker?” Dom immediately questioned, shouldering his Lancer.
The man hesitated for a moment, fiddling with his hands. “Well, I didn’t think you lot were gonna make it, so I didn’t fill her up. Figured that’s your job,” he pointed to a pump closest to the Junker. “Pump’s over there.”
Dom walked over to it, starting to pump fuel into the Junker. Marcus held his finger to the Tac/Com in his ear, hoping that the voice of First Lieutenant Anya Stroud would greet him. “Control, this is Sergeant Fenix, do you read?”
Static answered him for a moment, but Anya’s voice eventually made it to the other end of the line. “I read you, Marcus.”
“We’ve got the Junker and shall soon be heading back to pick up the rest of the squad. That is, Jason, Baird, Cole, and Michael.”
“You’d better hurry. Locust have launched a full-scale attack on their position. If you don’t get there soon, there’s a possibility they could be overrun quickly. Control out.”
Marcus froze in dread. “S***! Dom, hurry up and get that Junker running!”
“Why would the Locust just focus on one Stranded camp?” I asked him.
“Because recently the Locust have been killing every man, woman and child that they see, and won’t hesitate to bring in massive force power to take down Franklin’s settlement. We have to get there ASAP.”
He darted over to Dom just as the Latino alerted us that the Junker was all ready to hit the road with me hot on his heels. The do-ragged man was the first to jump into the Junker, me being the second. Dom grabbed his Lancer, which he had placed aside for a moment, before joining us, taking control of driving the modified Armadillo Personnel Carrier.
He spun the wheel a few times, sending the vehicle onto the stony road with a clang. Hisses from the darkness around us encouraged me to take control of a turret at the back of the Junker. It could unleash a huge stream of bright light to incinerate the Kryll whilst we progressed through the dark streets, if they got too near.
“I’ve got the UV Turret,” I remarked, wrapping my thumbs around it. I knew Marcus nodded behind me. He pulled his legs up to the other end of the APC, glancing occasionally at Dom and his driving and me and my fending off of the Kryll.
An invisible burning snake slithered up my nostrils, forcing a sneeze out of me now and then. I didn’t hesitate to burn swarms of Kryll that decided to make sushi out of us, praying that, if the Locust were attacking, or planning to attack the Stranded camp, we would get there in time to ensure our survival against the genocidal monsters.
“Cole, what’s your status?” Marcus roared over his Tac/Com.
“Not so beautiful, baby – these guys are bringin’ out the big guns now. Some’in big’s gonna go down.”
“Hey, where the hell are you guys? The Locust are on their way!” a familiar, agitated voice spoke through and entered the conversation. “We’re gonna get screwed to the wall if you’re not here in a few minutes!”
“Sit tight, we’re on our way. If we’re not there soon, just defend your position until we arrive.”
“Copy that. Baird out.”
The sound of bullets pinging and blood squelching greeted our ears ten minutes later as Dom swirled the Junker to a halt below a bright series of street lamps. He jumped out as soon as we all had.
The settlement’s gates had been forced right open, and familiar, pale bodies decorated its metallic remains. Splodges of blood were sprayed over every surface as we entered the camp. Death had reached us even before we had entered the actual place.
Obviously, the Locust had arrived at the camp before us.
We crouched and ran down the road leading into the settlement to find Gears and Stranded alike taking cover and firing waves of lead at the attackers. Countless Drones poured out from the many Emergence Holes…more than I had ever seen before…ten…twenty five…more.
Baird and Cole quickly came into view, the former sports star taking cover behind a wrecked car, and the blonde hiding behind a large pile of dirt and rubble.
“’Bout time you lot got here,” he sighed, placing his Lancer atop the pile and spraying bullets blindly over the battlefield. “We’re getting screwed to the wall! There’s just too freaking many of them!”
“This is how the Cole Train likes it, baby!” Augustus grinned with pride. A bullet missed his head by quite a distance, and he peeked over cover. It was obvious that a Drone had aimed for him. “OH, YOU CAN’T SEE STRAIGHT, BITCH? SHOULD’VE GONE TO SPECSAVERS, SUCKA!” the Drone whimpered in defeat as he shot him into oblivion with his own Lancer.
“Well, we’re here now,” I sighed as I leapt behind some sandbags. “You happy?”
I rested my Longshot onto the sandbags, pulling the goggles over my eyes.
“What about the others? Jason, Zack, Michael?” Marcus asked Damon as he took cover beside him.
“I don’t have a damn clue! They probably assisted with the evacuation of the Stranded that aren’t fighting!”
Without an answer, all of us had taken cover now, concentrating our fire over in the distance. The Locust were charging down the road, taking cover behind several buildings. Stranded were screaming and running from building to building at our sides. I peered into the Longshot scope, eager to blast of Locust heads. But they were moving and taking cover faster than ever, and they refused to leave their heads out of cover for long enough, killing many of us just with simple blind-firing techniques.
Torque arrows and Boomshot rockets sailed over our heads as we returned fire. I was quick enough to nail another headshot to a Theron Sentinel, but we weren’t dealing with any little patrol or anything…
This was a full-fledged assault…
It was soon when we realised that the Locust were flanking us. Indeed, Drones charged through the right side of the camp, pouring bullets into building windows and snapping the necks of the helpless Stranded.
About thirty Drones began to approach us from the right, firing from their Hammerbursts. I knew that our current cover would not protect us from the flanking soldiers. Darting to the left, I dived into a shop, soon followed by the other wise members of Delta Squad.
“Die, hominids!” the Locust stormed and fired from their firearms, making it impossible to avoid being struck by a straying bullet, regardless whether or not cover was taken, every few seconds.
The lumbering brutes from before with the much deeper bellows marched through the cover we had previously taken cover at. I immediately reacted, pulling out my Assault Rifle and blind-firing at one of the goons.
“BOOM!” it cried after a series of moans of discomfort. A sizzle sounded, and a massive missile fired from its massive weapon. I ducked myself into cover more than ever before to evade the deliverer of death; so much in fact that I was lying on the floor.
I switched to my Longshot and peeked up, moving towards the giant’s head as it slowly reloaded. I pulled the trigger, firing a dangerous shell at its cranium. While not a conclusive kill, it did damage the creature greatly. I forced in another bullet as quick as a flash and fired again, this time ensuring the head popped off from the neck in a gush of blood, bone and brain matter.
As more Drones fell (and as more grubs simply rose from the tens of Emergence Holes around the camp), every Gear and Stranded’s attention was drawn to a colossal, lumbering figure in the distance, slowly approaching the settlement. It was proved to be coming with its horrendous shrieks of frustration and a need for blood.
“What the f*** is a Brumak doing here?” Baird agitatedly cursed, forcing a new clip of ammo into his weapon.
“I don’t have a clue, Baird, you wanna ask him?” was the Sergeant’s gruff, harsh reply. “There’s no way in hell that we’re going to kill all these Locust, now! We have to make our way to the Junker and get our way out of this hellhole!”
“And just leave the Stranded to fight on their own, when they gave us some bigass dinner? Doesn’t sound right to me, man,” Cole responded after successfully bringing a Grenadier Elite to its knees.
“Look, we have to get out of here!” Marcus stormed back as the building rattled, dust raining down on us from above. “This place isn’t going to last much longer!”
“No,” I butt in with a short sentence. “I want to see these bastards dead. I’m not going to run away like some coward. After everything I’ve gone through…” sighing, I rested my head in my hands. “I’m staying. I’ll find Jason, Zack and Michael, and bring down those grubs.”
Marcus merely nodded, not bothering to reply. He rose from the ground, accompanied by Augustus, Damon and Dominic.
“I’ll find a way to contact you or something if I survive,” I locked eyes with him. “Now that’s not likely, but you lot just better go and get the f*** outta here quick.”
Without hesitation, the rest of Delta darted out from the shop entrance and out of sight. I chewed my lip, breathing heavily.
I had to survive…but how?
Luck. That was the only reason I was still alive.
I climbed out of the shop window just as I noticed Jason and Zack running up the road from which Dom, Marcus and I had came, weapons in hand.
“Dale!” Courts called as he and Zack approached me. “There are more of them than I’ve ever seen before! Where are the others?”
“They’re on their way to the Imulsion Facility,” I replied as a bolo went off nearby, spraying us in rubble and grit. “We’ve got to stop the Locust and close all Emergence Holes ASAP!”
As soon as I had finished, the towering beast grew closer. The Brumak was a bipedal, humanoid monster with huge rockets and Troikas attached to its arms. It was at least the size of a house.
The monster activated its mammoth rocket launchers, propelling a multitude of hazardous missiles at the shop nearby. After several shots the shop exploded into rubble and dust, enveloping us. I was blinded by the mud and particles unwelcomingly invading my eyes. Something large connected with the back of my head, instantly numbing all of my body parts. My legs lost control and I collapsed face-first onto the ground as I was buried beneath the building’s remains.
Hissing, smacking, roaring…
Many sounds were enveloping me. I couldn’t get my eyes to open at all. The world about me was no doubt wild – I was shoved around and punched a few times. The roars of the Locust ceased to leave me alone.
“Open your eyes, ‘ooman…” I heard a gun cock and a cold tip rest against my forehead. “Or sssuffer what everyone else is sssuffering around yooou…”
I could tell the voice was that of a Theron Sentinel. I didn’t think Drones could speak such sentences. Not wanting to die wherever I was, I rubbed my eyes as fast as I could as I heard screams invading my left and right ears.
My eyelids opened eventually, and my fears had been confirmed; staring back at me was a pale, wrinkly but terrifying face. The creature was snarling, its fangs clearly visible. I peered into its cold, blood-red eyes before grabbing onto an object near me and utilizing it to assist me in rising from the ground.
I appeared to be in some kind of massive cave. Hundreds of Locust were moving objects or pulling humans around by their hair. Some of the beasts were even ending the lives of innocent children as slowly and as horribly as possible. Grenadiers, Drones, Therons, Snipers and Wretches were all strolling around the place. Heck, I could have sworn I even saw a Seeder somewhere.
What struck me most about the place though was the Imulsion. At the very centre of the cave room was a massive lake of the substance. The cavern paths were running around the lake in a circle.
“D-Dale,” a recognisable voice squeaked from behind me. I spun around to find that Michael was there, his C.O.G helmet dented and sprayed in dirt.
“Where t-the hell are we?” I croaked. He shrugged, causing the helmetless Theron Sentinel near us to hiss in anger.
“Silence, groundwalkers!” it screeched, digging its nails into Michael’s shoulder. He wailed in pain; luckily, I managed to prevent the Locust from dealing a significant amount of damage by shoving it away. “Youu two sshall follow me…”
It walked down a path, near the edge of it, letting out a hiss. The Imulsion down the cliff to the right of him cast a glowing spell on his side. Michael and I followed without hesitation.
“Dale,” Michael whispered into my ear, repeating my name again. “We could grab its weapons and get the hell out of here through that tunnel,” he pointed over to one, which itself was quite large in size and dug into a wall, possibly by a small Corpser.
I noticed the Torque Bow and Hammerburst strapped to its back as it walked. “Are you bloody insane? We’re never going to just take them and peg it!”
“You distract him,” he replied quickly, trying to keep our voices down so the Theron would not hear of his plan.
“Ah, right, I missed the part on how the hell I actually distract a f***ing Theron Sentinel when there’s a hundred other Locust around me!”
“Just try it, will ya? Go around in front of him, talk to him – I don’t know what about! Just give me some time to grab his gear, I’ll kick him into the Imulsion, and we blow this joint.”
I sighed, nodding. Michael drew close to the Theron’s weapons and I stepped in front of it as quick as possible.
“Hey, what’s up?” I grinned at it. The Theron cocked its head. I wrapped my arm around its shoulder. “What’s your name?”
“I do not respond to the quessstion of an inferior ssspeciess…” it barked, grabbing my arm and twisting it. I howled in pain as it whispered into my ear. “You wwwill perisssh along with the Laaambent…”
Suddenly, Michael delivered a kick to the Theron’s side. Immediately the creature howled as it fell off the ledge. It plunged into the Imulsion below with a SPLASH.
“Let’s go,” he chuckled as he threw me a Hammerburst. I nodded, and with that we were off.
Sprinting through the cavern, it soon became obvious that we were a dangerous threat; armed and leaping past angry Locust soldiers that joined the chase to capture us again.
To my left, I noticed some kind of very tall Locust figure, standing on a high rock. It was screaming and chanting like some kind of priest, pointing to us. It had a large, peculiar, almost crown-like object atop its head, along with several Ink Grenades and a Gorgon Burst Pistol.
A bolo exploded near us, accompanied by bellows of the Grenadier that had lobbed it. We continued to dart across the cave, soon approaching the tunnel. The sun was illuminating it with its intense solar rays, and by this I could tell it was evening.
We entered the tunnel, rocks and boulders thrown about here and there, stalactites drooping from the ceiling. The Locust were still chasing us; a Drone had grown the closest, stumbling only a few feet away from me.
I turned around and fired quickly from the Hammerburst. The squelching of the lead coming into contact with its flesh was music to my ears (mostly because I hated the Locust more than freaking anything else) and it tried to raise its own Hammerburst to attack me. It flipped over; rolling down the tunnel after the final shell zipped right through its face.
“Damn, these Locust don’t put up much of a fight!”
We had soon reached the surface; the sun had alerted me of this by its heat and even brighter beams of energy. I gasped, inhaling the fresh air quickly as I found myself lying on the ground, grasping onto the small amounts of grass left.
I chuckled with victory, slowly rising from the ground. I peered into the horizon as Michael walked over to me.
[I]Marcus Fenix reached down to grab some ammunition from a Lancer that had skittered away from the corpse of a Cyclops Drone. He reloaded his weapon with pride, striding over to me. I was taking cover behind a large sofa, and there was a massive window inside the building we were in on the wall to the north.
As he attempted to kneel down to check the ammunition for his other weapons, his head suddenly exploded, sending blood and brain matter all around the area. His headless body collapsed beside me, and all I could do was scream.
A bellow tickled down my spine, and I winced as I slowly pulled a Boltok from my foot. I clicked some bullets into place as a strange force continuously banged against the door of the house. There was no other exit, save for the large window, but I couldn’t escape. I was too petrified to move.
The door burst open almost suddenly. Rubble and dirt stabbed my face as a strange figure rose from the darkness and hauled me into the air by my neck. It seemed to be very tall, but I just couldn’t make out its face. I struggled to breathe, my mouth refusing to take in any air. I groaned with pain as the figure drew some kind of bow.
Hissing, the creature moved the bow to my neck, and, in an instant, drove it across it. I wailed for a mere second before everything turned black.[/I]
I suddenly jerked, and my eyes snapped open.