Nah, it seems fine to me. Although, if you feel like, go ahead.
Jonesy "Psycho" Breen
Nah, it seems fine to me. Although, if you feel like, go ahead.
Haunted Echo I
Mining Way station, Outer Hollow;
Eventually, the glow sticks Jason had found died away, leaving them in darkness. Indicator lights winked hauntingly in the pitch black, bobbing as their owners moved with their hands stretched out in front of them. Marov took the opportunity to get some much needed rest. Leaning his head back against the wall and closing his eyes, he hoped he wasn’t going to wake up with the ceiling falling down on him or Jonesy somehow messing with something to vent all the air. However, with his finger still throbbing painfully despite the blood clotting, he fell into unconsciousness almost immediately.
Almost as immediately, at least to his perception of time, Marov’s eyes opened again, staring into the lightless room. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end as he heard something rustle against the metallic floor. His mouth felt dry as he tried to swallow, knowing deep down in his gut that there was something sinister in the room with him. He stood up with his injured hand braced against the wall, reaching for his sidearm. The hard, bone hilt felt frozen, whispers of pain exuding from it causing him to drop it in surprise. He watched its journey to the floor in what seemed like slow motion, a pale radiance glowing from the pistol.*
Somehow the gun went off as it hit the ground, the brilliant flash lighting up the immediate area for a second. Marov saw a small form fall in that fleeting moment of brightness, a cry of pain grating across his eardrums in a familiar voice. No, that couldn’t be right. She was dead.
All logical thought flew out of his head as he heard her whimpering, his body automatically moving to where he had seen the girl fall. He quickly fell to his knees, the heavy knee pads thudding against the ground as he reached out to find his little girl.*
“I’m here, darlin’,” Marov choked out, a faint light similar to his pistol illuminating his deceased daughter’s face. “I’m here. Don’t move. I’m here.”
“It hurts,” the girl replied stutteringly, luminescent tears streaming down her pale cheeks. Marov’s chest tightened, a hollow feeling like someone had just torn out his heart occurring. Panic coursed through his body at a breakneck pace, his own eyes moistening with sorrow as he examined the wound. A hole the size of his thumb stood out against his little girl’s stomach, blood soaking her pink, doll-like dress. A gut wound, then, a detached voice said in his mind.
“I know, baby. I know. Just, just don’t move. It’ll be okay, daddy’s here,” Marov said, his throat burning with an acidic, bitter taste. He didn’t waste any more time talking as he tried to figure out a way to save her, his finger already pressing against the wound to stem the bleeding. She yelled out as he did so, almost causing Marov to pull his hand back. However, he just gritted his teeth against the awful task and kept pushing, stroking his daughter’s face with his free hand.
“Stop it! You’re hurting me!” she half cried, half yelled, slapping away his hand from her face. With surprising strength, she pushed him away, tumbling onto his back. Marov looked up confusedly as she somehow stood over him, the blood still streaming from her wound and darkening the dress. Suddenly, his daughter’s skin darkened to a wholesome brown, her clothing shifting into familiar rags.
“You couldn’t save us,” Naleena sneered, Marov’s pistol appearing in her hand. “You had all the tools, all the power to keep us alive and you failed.”
“No, no, I tried,” he croaked out, wincing as the woman standing over him threw her head back and laughed. The mad, cackling sounded like two people, one sad and full of blame while the other was tinged with anger and bitterness.
“You tried?” the woman replied, the strange twin vocals continuing as her face morphed back to his daughter’s fair features, still wearing the rags. “That wasn’t good enough, was it? You couldn’t save your daughter. You couldn’t save me. So we died. Thanks to you.”
His daughter examined the pistol in her hand, stroking the bone as a haunted scream echoed in Marov’s mind. With her face returning to Naleena’s sneer, she pointed the pistol at his face.
“You killed and took this man’s self, to remind you of something. How you failed to protect us the first time, promising yourself what?” Naleena grinned madly, continuing in a piercing tone. “That you wouldn’t let it happen again? And yet, it did.”
Marov laid his head back and stared at the light coming from the ceiling, thoughts of blame and disgust running through his mind. It was his fault. He couldn’t protect anyone. With his beard wet with tears, he closed his eyes and waited for the end.
Ok, late review, my bad, sorry bro.
Anyway, pretty good chapter. A tad slow on the pacing, but nice character development on Marov. as I said, the movement was a tad slow after the "Dream". It was still good, but it just seemed to drag on a tad longer than it should have.
Oh, and Jonesy is still awesome.
Now, now your learning.
From the Forums!?
How did she get in there!?
Jonesy from the Forums is Ven?
How in the hell does that make sense!?
You're not crazy... your just a drunk... totally different.
Need me to assist in getting aid to you, pronto?
I like how we've just taken over this thread while it's owner, Croswynd, is nowhere to be found. See, that shows we have power around these peons... I think people are finally starting to understand that.
Hurrah, victorious victory is valiantly ours!
Right away Ocifer... no I didn't had nothing in my pants.
Alright, Grub, shut it down.
Our operations here are over, onto the next hot-spot.
Chapter 14: Back on Track
"Keep walkin' ahead free of fear,
Long as the streets don't rumble 'n' sheer,
Hide behind cover,
Got lots of it here,
And blow 'em away with a grin 'r a sneer.
And when them grubs look up to peer,
At the ones in the cobalt blue gear,
Well we'll turn 'em to mush,
Keepin' safe the ones we hold dear,
Til we get back to days that're sunny and clear!"
- Excerpt of a Folk song by Nick Beamer, last of the world's great musicians
Abandoned way station, Outer Hollow;
He awoke to someone shaking his body, the sound of his pistol cracking off a shot lingering in his mind. A bright light caused him to wince as the person's shadow moved out from in front of him. He felt like he'd been hit by a truck after a night of heavy drinking.
"Hey, princess, time to wake up," a sneering voice came. Jonesy, of course. "You're our mechanic and we need lights. Your pet 'bot ain't gonna last forever."
Marov opened his eyes and stared at Jonesy's stubbled visage, his nose picking up a whiff of mint. Was the pilot chewing mints at a time like this? The thought forced a chuckle out of him, the spasm sending a shooting pain into his injured hand. Jonesy looked at him as if he were crazy. Maybe he was.
"Much as I like a little insanity, why don't you go off the deep end after you fix what needs fixin', yeah?"
"Give me a minute, smartass," Marov grumbled, pushing the pilot away as he stretched. A yawn escaped him, his hands coming up to his eyes to rub the last remnants of sleep away. As he stood up, bracing himself against the wall he had been laying against, he noticed someone had turned Spark's light back on. Ty, probably. No one else in this bloody mountain knows anything about machinery, Marov thought uncharitably, ignoring Jonesy's affinity for airborne vehicles.
A series of boops and whistles issued from the ought source, the bot's head turning to partially block out the light. Sparks' turned it's metallic head as best it could, looking cheerful despite it's inability to move, if a little worse for wear.
Marov reached up to scratch the thickening stubble around his previously groomed mustache, looking over at a wall where a screen that looked like it was just about to go out. Ty was hovering over it, no doubt trying to find something useful in the mining database; like a way to get out of the mountain. Marov's eyes nervously took stock of the room, heaving a sigh of relief when he spotted another door on the opposite side of the one they had ran through with a collapsing tunnel on their heels.
With the thought of a way out eating away at his melancholy mood, he went to the table Sparks lay on and began to carefully reapply the bandage around what had been his ring finger. A little stream of blood and a dull pain throbbed in time with his pulse, the wound looking healthy, with no sign of infection setting in. Grunting in approval, he wrapped a cleaner bandage around it.
"If there's one thing we have, it's med supplies," Marov muttered under his breath, continuing sarcastically as he remembered their ammunition predicament. "Maybe we can make a slingshot that shoots our needles."
Once his injury was once again covered, he pulled on the gauntlet he had shed earlier. A line of ripped textile and plastic along his knuckles matched perfectly with the shallow cuts along his other fingers. It was a wonder none of the others had been severed. He flexed his fingers experimentally, grimacing slightly as the movement tugged on the bandage. It would have to do.
With Sparks' pale radiance lighting up the small room, Marov took stock of the surroundings. A hexagonal formation of several gray walls stared back at him without emotion, their color as dreary as the barracks back in Jacinto. He chewed on his lip as he remembered the accommodations he had complained about - what he would give to be back there, sleeping in an actual cot instead of against a wall.
Against the wall opposite of his previously vacated accommodations was the pull out table they had made into a makeshift bed for Naleena. Nyvar and Jason were discussing something in low tones as they changed the former Stranded’s bandages, gesturing back and forth. Marov felt a smile tug at the side of his mouth as he watched the father and son pair, their gestures and postures almost identical.
“So, are we going to get some light, or are you just going to stand there all day?” a sneering voice came from Marov’s right. Jonesy was leaning against the wall with his eyes darting here and there; his tone suggesting he was very uncomfortable in the enclosed space. Marov looked up at the slate-colored ceiling, only a meter or so above their heads with a faint uneasiness; he didn’t blame the pilot for his nervousness.
“Yeah, gimmie a second, asshole,” Marov shot back, flipping the bird at the flyboy. With a chuckle from his object of insult following him, Marov shifted his bulk to the side of the table. The panel he had taken off when they’d entered was hanging loosely off the surface, connected to the ‘bot by a thick, plastic tie. He grabbed is and put it on top of Sparks, tsking at the carelessness absentmindedly.
With a few deft moves, Marov brought the screen online and to the main menu on the ‘bot’s side. A blinking battery indicator in the corner of the screen showed 3% left of Sparks’ power reserves.
“So you’re out of fuel, huh, little buddy?” Marov whispered rhetorically, receiving an answering boop from Sparks anyway. He thought that meant some kind of affirmative, so he nodded and chewed on his lip, racking his brain for an idea. A curse from Ty’s location at the console sparked a possible solution as he looked over.
“Ty?” Marov croaked out, suddenly aware his throat was dry. He took a swig from the canteen on his belt and tried again. “Hey, Ty?
“Yeah, what?” the other Gear growled out in irritation, not even looking up from the low-lit screen.
“That console have a dedicated power supply? Or is it routed through the mining base?”
The younger Gear flicked his eyes irritatingly down to the station, pushing a button and bringing a menu similar to the one displayed on Sparks’ side. After a few minutes of searching, Ty pulled up a schematic of the way station from the database. A few lines reaching down through the rock from their current location confirmed Marov’s suspicions.
“Looks like we’re hooked up directly into the immulsion, sir,” Ty replied, a hand running through his sweat and dust-caked hair. Marov momentarily wondered how he himself looked – probably worse. We’re dirty enough to pass for friggin’ Stranded, he thought with a grimace.
“Good, that’s what I thought. Here, grab Sparks and see if you can hook him up to the power supply. Might be able to recharge him that way,” Marov nodded, motioning toward the ‘bot with his injured hand.
“Me?” Ty asked, a surprised look in his eyes. “Why me?”
“Because I need to talk to our glorious leader about our objectives,” Marov yawned, looking over to see Nyvar pouring over the map he had given his friend earlier. His rough, mustachioed visage twisted into an amused smile as Ty picked the heavy machine off the table. “Plus, you were able to turn the lights on and off. I’m sure you can figure out how to plug the damn thing into a wall.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” the other Gear wryly replied, grinning slightly as Spark’s uttered a series of condescending beeps.
As Marov turned away, he wondered at the chemistry the young man and the ‘bot had. His eyes narrowed as he looked back Ty, idly wondering if the two were developing enough of a rapport to plot something devious. Last thing I need is the twerp and his pet floating trash can tag-teaming me back at base, Marov grumped in his mind.
With his heavy boots banging dully against the floor, he moved around the center island toward his friend, who had laid the map on top of a small, pull out table. There were a couple of indentations on either side of it which Marov guessed were stools, but with their heavy gear on, he doubted they’d handle the weight gracefully.
“Hey,” Nyvar said, not even glancing up at his friend, one gloved finger trailing along a particular section of the map. Marov glanced down to see X’s and O’s cluttering the once clean map; circles marking possible exits while the X’s marked…something.
“Hey,” Marov returned, sidling up to the opposite end of the table and gesturing his uninjured hand at the map. “What’s with the X’s?”
“Locust activity, blocked tunnels, Stranded outposts,” Nyvar replied, finally looking up with tired eyes at his friend. “Ty managed to get us a few of the last updates from the central facility. Turns out the deserters have been keeping the mainframe active.”
“Smart of them, with all the Locust around,” Marov nodded appreciatively at the soldiers’ instincts. Even if they were deserters, they still were a force to be reckoned with. “He find anything else?”
“Unfortunately, no. We got locked out a few seconds after we downloaded the maps. Looks like they have a tech expert with them.”
“Or the Locust could have shredded one of the cables connecting us to the facility,” Marov countered. Nyvar just shrugged, closing his eyes as he reached up to pinch his nose.
“At any rate, we have a couple of options on how to get in. Care to hear them? One involves explosives.”
“I’m all ears,” Marov said, leaning his elbows down on the table and putting on an eager face.
“Smartass,” Nyvar scowled at the reaction, continuing with his Sergeant voice. “We’ve got two ways in. There’s a sort of lift we can gain access to in the tunnels. It requires us traveling for a couple of hours through Locust infested tunnels, but it doesn’t seem to be guarded very heavily. At least, the bottom doesn’t, seeing as the Locust don’t seem to be able to crack the codes. Ty says he can hotwire the thing to bring us up, though. Something about some programs he found in Sparks’ memory. Black Ops stuff.”
Marov nodded, remembering the conversation they had had several days ago, back when the bizarre journey had just started. Suddenly, he was more appreciative of their robotic friend, thinking back on the number of times the loyal machine had saved their asses. It was an embarrassingly high amount, unfortunately.
“And the second option?”
“We can get the hell out of these tunnels and enter in the front like we originally planned. Maybe blow the doors of the base with some dynamite.”
“That doesn’t seem like it should even be counted as an option. Last time I saw, we were getting hit with a blizzard – freezing my ass off isn’t something I’d enjoy. Plus, who knows what kind of sh*t they have cooked up to keep us out with a frontal assault, even with TNT on our side,” Marov sighed, wondering why Nyvar even brought it up.
“Well, yeah, but I was thinking we could throw the pilot at them. Solve both our problems,” Nyvar replied, looking over to the side. Marov followed his gaze to Jonesy, who was sullenly looking back at them. “But seriously, we still need to rescue those slaves and this seems like the best opt-.”
“Oh, no. No, no, no,” Marov said, cutting his friend off. “They’re dead. No way in hell the Locust care enough about them to bring them inside the nice warm caves. More than likely, they’re corpse-sicles outside the tunnel entrance. Plus, this mission is going to be hard enough without carting around a truck load of stinkin’ refugees through the snow, Locust, and whatever the hell else is out there, even if they were still around!”
“Look, Sy, I know you don’t like Stranded, but they’re people, too. The topic isn’t open for discussion.”
“Why don’t we do both?”
Marov and Nyvar both looked over at Jason, who was sitting next to Naleena with his armored back against the wall. His dark, serious eyes stared back at them, the teenage stubble on his chin reminding Marov exactly how young the younger Nyvar was. Marov was the first to recover from the break in.
“What do you mean?” Marov asked, pulling on one side of his mustache. “We don’t exactly have the people to mount an assault on both sides. Let alone the equipment.”
Jason stood up, shaking his head as he walked over to them, glancing down at Naleena as he moved past her pull-out cot. When he arrived at their tiny stand, he pointed at the tunnel entrance.
“A small team can enter here, sneaking in the back,” he said, the gears in his head almost audible as he continued, his face thoughtful. “Ty said he could do it without throwing out an alert, so we should be fine. Especially if we have someone keeping them busy up at the front.” The kid tapped the entrance on the outside of the network of tunnels with a gloved finger, the impact causing a slight rustling of paper. “We could impersonate a group of Stranded, or even a few Gears with intention of desertion, giving the other team time to do some damage. Those explosives we found would be perfect. Having the facility as a fallback point for the refugees would be a boon either way.”
“One problem is I don’t think they’d be very trusting to a bunch of muscle-bound hulks all of a sudden showing up with a vendetta against the COG,” Nyvar replied, pointing out the obvious flaw in the plan. Marov nodded along with his friend’s assessment, though he had a feeling Jason had thought of that, too. Judging from the way the junior Nyvar grinned, Marov felt confident in his assumption.
“That would be true. However, we have a couple less muscled, and therefore less threatening-looking, people with us.” The kid hitched his thumb back at the pilot, who was glowering over at them as if it was their fault he was stuck miles deep in the ass crack of a mountain. Marov had to admit to himself it probably was, though.
“True,” Marov rumbled out, rubbing his chin as he stared at their wounded compatriot. “Still, Nal’s in bad shape. I don’t think we should leave her here, alone. Because we’ll need everyone we have to do any damage.”
“I thought of that, too,” the too-smart tone of voice retorted as Jason appraised their raven-haired Stranded girl. “With the armor she’s still wearing, she could pass for another Gear. If I carry her and head to the front with Jonesy, she should be able to add some kind of urgency to our situation. After all, even if they’re deserters, they’re still soldiers at heart – we’ve been taught to safeguard women, whenever we can.”
“I don’t know,” Nyvar replied to the plan, rubbing a bicep through the thick mesh sleeves he wore under his armor. “It’s risky. They could just keep you out regardless. Then we’d be without the distraction you mentioned and you’d be out in the cold. I don’t think she’d survive out there long, son.”
A flash of sparks interrupted Marov’s thought processes, causing them all to look over to where Ty was working on the ‘bot. Cursing, the younger member of Echo Three ripped a power cord out of Sparks’ side, stopping the inflammation of their highly expensive machinery.
“What did you do?” Marov asked incredulously as Sparks’ lights went dim, the room plunging into darkness once more. Jonesy started cursing up a storm, quickly followed by a crash as the pilot ran into something and fell.
“I just hooked him up, sir. Hold on,” Ty growled, a bang accompanying his voice. All of a sudden, Sparks started lighting back up, the bulbs blinking on as it started to raise up on its repulsors. “There. All fixed. Right buddy?”
Sparks beeped and booped cheerfully, extending a grasping claw and patting Ty on the head, comically rising and lowering on his repulsors to manage the action. A rumble of laughter from Marov’s side joined with his own as they laughed at Ty’s expression, which was one part proud and one part confused at what had just taken place.
“Looks like he agrees,” Naleena’s soft voice broke through the din, a wan smile on her paler-than-normal face.
“And I think I figured out a way to failsafe my plan, too,” Jason said with a sudden eagerness.
“Let’s hear it then, General,” Jonesy sneered from across the room, his arms folded as he leaned against the wall. Marov had a feeling the pilot knew his part in their plan wouldn't be pleasant, whatever they decided on.
Chapter 15: Hollow Run
“You ever wonder where all these explosives are coming from, man? I mean, someday we’re going to run out of it. That’s a fact. And then where are we going to be? Using friggin’ dynamite? On second thought, I can’t wait!” – Baird, on the COG’s dwindling military assets.
In the tunnels, Outer Hollow;
“Bloody, damn assholes,” Jonesy said as he followed Jason and his cargo through the small tunnel they’d been in for the last hour. He wasn’t happy at all about being sent out of the safe waystation, where bats with razors for wings flitted around and rocks had a habit of submitting to gravity far too often for his liking. His zone was the sky, after all, not this ground-pounder sh*t he’d been dealing with the last however many days. “Damn caves. Damn COG. Damn Hoffman.”
“It’s not Hoffman’s fault you got yourself shot down, Jonesy,” Jason’s sarcastic voice sounded from ahead. Jonesy glowered at the kid, not enjoying being reminded.
“Yeah, well, if I wasn’t such a great pilot, we’d all be dead on touchdown,” Jonesy retorted bitterly, remembering “touchdown” as a maddening series of flashing lights, loud noises, and an extreme amount of heat just before he blacked out. “You know what the life expectancy of flyboys are? It seems like we die faster than you kids on the ground do. I’m surprised there’s as many of us still alive as there are!”
“World’s a crazy place, man. People just happen to roll with the crazy themselves. Some more than others.”
“No sh*t,” Jonesy sneered, looking down at his feet in an effort to stop stumbling. They had Sparks with them, but the ‘bot was conserving its power by only keeping one bulb on. It’d keep the Kryll away at the least, but it wasn’t so bright that he didn’t keep tripping over every crevasse in the friggin’ mountain. “Speaking of insanity, I’m surprised your dad and his two buddies felt the need to adventure into the mountain with just an old kerosene lamp to keep them company. If that sh*t runs out in the middle of a Kryll swarm, they’re f*cked.”
The kid didn’t reply, leading Jonesy to believe he was ignoring him. The pilot didn’t blame him, though, seeing as how he’d probably be pretty nervous if the last of his family was risking their lives like that. If he had any family still alive. Jonesy quickly moved his thoughts back over to griping to avoid that dark cesspit of thought. It wouldn’t do anyone any good.
With his muttering keeping his attention away from the heavy, almost cloying ceiling above their heads, Jonesy examined his armor. While his scrawny frame barely filled the suit out, it still amazed him how the recon suit rendered his outline almost indistinct. Granted, they were underground, but even when they’d been traveling through the forest on some stupid errand to save a bunch of asswipes in a slave camp filled with a dozen or more Locust, the armor had had that effect.
“Shame we can’t coat our Ravens with this sh*t,” he whispered sullenly, thinking of his downed bird somewhere in the forest surrounding the mountain. “Still, even if we did, we’d have to work on the sound. Stupid rotors.”
Time passed slowly underground, the surroundings staying the same rocky path after stalagmite after pit of abyss he almost fell into. Occasionally, a red, glowing light gently pulsed from some kind of underground potato or seed. Biology wasn’t high on Jonesy’s list of priorities, so he didn’t do much but look at it as if it were dangerous. Given what things crawled around in the Hollow, he wasn’t prepared to find out either way.
That didn’t stop Jason from calling a break though, directing Jonesy to keep Naleena company while he examined it. Jonesy just shook his head at the kid’s weird brand of crazy and complied, sidling up to the wounded woman and sitting beside her.
“So how’s the chest, lady?” Jonesy asked with his usual tact. The woman frowned slightly with her puffy lips, her eyebrows drawing down and then raising again with the smile that followed. Obviously, she understood his particular behavior.
“I’m coping. It hurts, but I don’t feel like I’m dying. That machine of yours did good work. I can’t even imagine how much it’d help a community of Stranded if we had one.”
“Yeah, well, we kind of need them for the war and stuff. Locust trying to wipe us out. Good a medic as they can be, we try to use them to more for busting down doors or scouting,” Jonesy rattled off sarcastically, leaning his head back against the stone wall. Some kind of insect with too many legs was skittering across his field of vision, disappearing behind a cluster of roots. He shuddered at it, transforming the action into a fake shiver as his companion arched her brow.
“Damn, it’s cold down here,” Jonesy groused loudly, rubbing his arms. Even though he had faked the shiver, it was still chilly. He supposed that meant they were getting closer to an exit, and while that cheered him up, he wasn’t looking forward to wading through hip deep snow for a couple of miles.
“I’ve got a blanket in my pack if the poor, wittle pilot needs one,” Jason’s voice sounded from somewhere around the bend, followed by a chuckle. Jonesy twisted his mouth into a sneer at the words and flipped the bird in the voice’s direction.
“I’m kind of chilly, too,” Naleena whispered softly, scooting closer to Jonesy. The pilot looked over, the woman’s leaning position giving him an almost full view of her shapely cleavage. He looked away quickly, feeling his face burning with embarrassment. Well, at least my cheeks won’t catch frostbite, he thought wryly to himself.
With a grumble, he put an arm around his companion, looking up at the ceiling as she snuggled closer to him. The contact of her small body was almost electrifying, the warmth of their thighs touching and her bosom against his side getting a rise out of him. He cursed silently to himself, hoping she wouldn’t notice his predicament. Dammit, it’s not my fault I haven’t even looked at a woman since the war started, Jonesy groaned inwardly, feeling extremely uncomfortable with the moment.
A few minutes later, he felt her breathing slow, the warmth from her exhales sending goosebumps along his arm as it disturbed the hairs there. Great, she’s asleep. Wait, should she be asleep with this kind of injury? Or was that head wounds? Why do I care this much? A whirlwind of thoughts were rushing through Jonesy’s mind as the crunching of gravel announced Jason’s return. The pilot looked up to see the Gear’s face smirking at him, softening as he looked to Naleena’s sleeping form.
“Fell asleep, huh?”
“Yeah. She’s tired. Hell, we’re all tired,” Jonesy said, trying to gently take his arm out from around her back. When he failed to do so, he gestured with his head toward her at Jason. “Get her, will you? My arms falling asleep.”
“Chivalrous as usual,” Jason wisecracked, kneeling down and pulling the woman forward. Jonesy quickly extricated his arm from behind her, wiping away dirt and gravel from the mesh underlay he was wearing.
“I never claimed to be perfect.”
“Coulda fooled me with your attitude,” Jason chuckled softly as he grabbed the woman under her legs and pulled her up with a grunt into his arms. With that lovely note, they continued their trek through the tunnels. Jonesy idly wondered if the other team was having as much fun as he was.
Marov coughed, tightening the bandana he’d had to tie over his mouth earlier. His eyes were watering from the fumes the Imulsion all around them was giving off, but he soldiered through it, careful where he set down his foot. Earlier, Ty had stepped in the wrong place, his foot breaking down through the crusty ground and entering the fuel for a second before Nyvar reached over and pulled him out. The man’s boot had been eaten almost all the way through; Marov had shuddered at the thought of what the Imulsion would do if it had touched Ty’s skin.
The enormous cavern they were in held slim walkways through a veritable sea of Imulsion. Every now and then, the fuel bubbled and made a gurgling noise as they passed, as if it were alive and matching their progress. That thought didn’t set well with Marov, who was bringing up the rear in their three man convoy. Still, the only redeeming quality of all the Imulsion was they could conserve their lamp's kerosene, since the stuff gave off a lot of sickly, yellow light.
Ty, holding the now extinguished lamp, was in the middle, following Nyvar as they made their way through the cavern. The younger man’s gait was awkward every time he stepped down on his corroded boot, much to his annoyance. Marov tried to fan the fumes from his eyes as they went and failing miserably.
“So, if there was so much damn Imulsion down here, why did we even fight the Pendulum Wars?” Ty asked, his voice muffled through his own makeshift bandana.
“Hell, I don’t know. It was probably just because war’s what we do. We wouldn’t know what to do with peace,” Marov gabbed bitterly, checking his Lancer’s ammunition. He had only two extra clips outside of his full magazine – they couldn’t handle a prolonged firefight. Which was another reason they had to take the facility; the deserters no doubt had a cache of weapons stashed somewhere.
“Politicians,” Nyvar called over his shoulder. “The greedy bastards wanted all the fuel. Doesn’t much matter how much of the sh*t there is. People like that don’t learn how to share.”
“Prescott doesn’t seem as bad as that. He was in the army, wasn’t he?” Ty replied.
“Yeah, he was in the army alright. Didn’t do much beside send good men to die, but he was in the army. Man never saw frontline combat,” Marov growled, the bandana momentarily sticking to his lips. He reached up to pull it away, letting in a blast of Imulsion flavored oxygen. He almost retched as the smell stuck to the back of his throat.
“Besides, he became Chairman during this war. He didn’t have the time to focus on scrabbling for the Imulsion. Might be the only reason anyone still thinks of him positively,” Nyvar scoffed, marching over a rise. As soon as he did, he stopped and held his hand up in a fist, backing up and falling into a crouch. Marov watched Ty bring his weapon around in a scanning maneuver, crouching down as well in case there were a sniper watching the ridge. For his part, Marov turned and brought his weapon up to cover their rear. Nothing behind them, at least.
“What is it, Sarge?” Ty whispered.
“Bloodmount,” Nyvar hissed back. Marov felt a pat on his back and turned around to see Nyvar gesturing for him to join the two looking over the rise. When his eyes broke the plane, they went automatically to the beast shuffling along beside a Drone. A clinking was audible over the bubbling Imulsion as the chain around the Bloodmount’s neck scratched the ground and lead to the Locust’s clawed hand.
“What’s the plan, ‘Seph?” Marov asked as he checked the safety on his Lancer again.
“Let ‘em pass. Looks like they’re heading for that tunnel,” their leader pointed at a large, dark entrance that looked as though it went deeper into the Hollow. “The Imulsion should mask our scent, at least.”
Marov nodded and resolved to wait awhile, leaning back against a stalagmite that was shooting up from the ground beside their path. His Lancer rested against his chest as he stared up at the ceiling. What he saw nearly paralyzed him with fear.
“We don’t have time to wait, ‘Seph. We need to go, now!” Marov hissed nervously, getting up slowly as he kept his gaze locked on the many eyes of a Corpser slowly unwinding itself from a large hole in the roof. He didn’t know if slow movements would help, but the thing wasn’t dropping on top of them yet, so he continued the motion.
“Wha-? Oh, sh*t,” Nyvar replied as he followed Marov’s gaze. The Corpser was almost completely out of the hole now, its clawed extremities clutching the roof like the spider it resembled.
“Why isn’t it attacking already? It’s staring right at us,” Ty whispered with fear, slowly rising up to his feet.
“The Imulsion, maybe? How do the things see, anyway?” Marov asked, watching the monster cock its head back and forth at them. A dry, slithery hiss emanated from its cavernous mouth as it sliced through a stalactite hanging from the ceiling directly above them.
Marov wasn’t sure who yelled it, but he immediately jumped out of the way, over the rise. A sound he never wanted to hear in a cave again thundered from behind him, the ground shaking beneath him. He jumped to his feet as quickly as he could and ran after Ty, who was already heading directly at the Bloodmount and its master.
A stream of shots flew over Marov’s shoulder as Nyvar opened fire on the Drone, Ty and Marov doing the same. He heard someone yelling over the sound of Lancer fire and realized it was his own voice, fueled with anger and fear as the Drone twitched in its death throes. The Bloodmount, driven mad by the smell of blood and machine gun fire, dug into the corpse of the Locust, blood flinging everywhere as the thing’s teeth and tiny claws ripped into the body.
They were a few meters from the grisly scene when the ground shook again. Marov looked back to see the Corpser splash into the Imulsion, screeching in pain as it landed in the fuel. It quickly ran forward toward them, the fury in its many eyes directed at them. As one of its claws lifted, Imulsion sloughed off, revealing the tip of its extremity melted off.
“F*ck!” Marov yelled, returning his vision forward as an acid-eaten leg slammed into the ground, narrowly missing him as he jumped to the left. Ty ran past the Bloodmount, jumping in the air as best he could despite the heavy gear as the animal swiped a claw at him. With its fanged mouth ringed with the blood that gave it it’s name, it turned back to Marov and lurched forward toward him. There was no way he had enough time to bring his gun up and kill the thing. Dying to a friggin’ Bloodmount miles underground wasn’t exactly the way I thought I would go, Marov raged in his mind, futilely raising his weapon anyway.
Just as he was about to become the Bloodmount’s next victim, a claw from the Corpser pierced through its body and dug into the ground, pinning the abomination. Marov’s eyes widened as he tried to shift his body to the right, careening off of the claw and tripping to the ground. He threw his Lancer ahead of him right before he hit the ground so he wouldn’t get a face full of chainsaw. The dying screech of the Bloodmount rang in his ears, almost deafening him.
“How many times am I going to have to pick you off your ass?” Nyvar’s voice rang out as a strong hand pulled him to his feet. Marov just grinned despite his leg starting to radiate pain from the bullet wound. All this running wasn’t doing it any good.
“As many times as I have to pull your ass out of a fire,” Marov shot back, scooping up his weapon as he moved toward their destination – a small tunnel the Corpser couldn’t hope to follow them through with its size. Ty was standing there, looking back at them and waving them on. Marov was glad the other Gear had sense enough not to piss away the last of his ammo on the Corpser’s hard carapace.
They ran the last couple of meters into the cave just as the Corpser jumped at them, banging into the wall in impotent rage. Marov took the opportunity to look back just as the thing sent a large claw into the opening. He pushed Ty and Nyvar to opposite ends of the wall and launched himself forward as he did so. Curses filled the air as the other two soldiers tripped and caught themselves on opposite walls.
Marov, on his hands and knees, crawled as fast as he could, feeling the impact of the Corpser’s claw hitting directly behind him. A scream of frustration from their giant adversary caused Marov to roll over and look back, out of range of the madly scrambling digit. His chest rose and fell rapidly as he gulped in air, ripping the bandana from over his mouth. Ty rushed over, quickly followed by Nyvar, their combined strength enough to drag him further away from the monster. Marov felt dizzy, everything starting to go black as fumes filled his throat and the pain in his leg flared.
"Just a little further, man. Elevators are in sight."
Marov nodded as best he could, his vision narrowing to a pinprick as the Corpser's eyes stared at him, it's hellish mouth wide open in a yell.
He wants you to get a lubrication, for he attempts to impale your inners with his sword. By that I mean he wants to R&R your chapters.
By the will, another chapter eh? Well, gotta finish the second half of the first one and then the full second bit, will get back to you.
Sorry about not finding any corrections, truth be told, my head is out of it. I found myself reading the same line three-times over and then trying to get my eyes adjusted to the next after realizing my error. (Don't judge me)
As for the chapters ... well lets just say "Imulsion" and "Corpser" go to a category of their own. And the best part being, the damn thing is still breathing ... so, I mean, unless the gang can somehow "kill it" I doubt it's just going to go away in the next chapter ... am I right?
Nine legs and it breath's fire!?
You know, Act III doesn't even really need to be part of this story, so I'm going to end Haunted Echoes in 5 or so chapters.
From there, I'll start working on a real Gears novel, like Jonesy's Snowblind length. It's almost been a year (yes, I'm that horrible at updating), so I think I need a fresh canvas to work with, seeing how much my work has changed.
Five chapters, huh?
Are you trying to get your name added on there just because you won? Dammit boy, don't you try and bail on us, is that understood like a redwood?
Now, about that novel ... would you like a manager? I know I great guy, does great work, in high demand and all...
lol...i have no idea who any of these characters are, I just picked the coolest name and it turned out to be Syval Marov and it is the most popular.
I did report it! Also...my next chapter is just growing into it's 1k word milestone. At this rate, it'll be done by [Timestamp Not Available]!
Nice, so what's after 1K? Willing to go all the way, brother?
When you've got someone such as myself, do you really need anyone else?
Of course I jest, for those that are little too sensitive and jumped the gun. Talking to you, lurkers...
"Oh my god, he's an asshole-jerkoff, look at his ego, look at it!"
Now stop sending me "letters".