Story by Drake_The_Traveller on SoFurry

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Starfox: Liberation Chapter 9: Conscience Sometimes you face difficulties not because you're doing something wrong, but because you're doing something right... -Anonymous   Alaric growled in frustration. Krystal had not been back at the ship or anywhere in-between. It was as if she had just vanished into thin air. This left the human at a crossroads. Should he continue to look for her, or go back to his real mission?

Technically this ship and everyone on board were irrelevant. He could go look for the docking tube for The Undying and finish what he had originally come here to do. There was nothing saying he had to find out what happened to the people onboard the starliner. In fact it would go against his orders. He was supposed to remain covert and continuing down his current road would jeopardize everything, throwing his freedom on the line. But if he did that it would mean leaving Krystal to whatever fate had in store for her. He had only known her for a few days and she was consistently grating on his nerves. Not only that but she was a liability to his mission. If he knew what was good for him he would just abandon her. Yet even as he considered that, he thought back to his days on the ship prior to arriving here. Krystal had been compassionate and understanding. No one in his life up to that moment had ever acted that way towards him. She seemed to genuinely care about his feelings and treated him like a person. She never pressed when she asked about his past or anything else about him she wanted to know. He could recall every facet of her face in his mind as clear as day, her turquoise eyes that shone with life and mirth, and her snowy white muzzle that always held a smile. The vixen was an icon of innocence and purity, so unlike him. Alaric would forever be stained by his past. He could drown in an ocean of all the innocent blood he had shed. He had ended so many lives...many like her. She did not deserve to be abandoned, especially by someone of his sordid ilk. "Dammit..." He sighed, dropping his shoulders in defeat. He would find Krystal, orders be damned. He owed her that much. Alaric picked up his pace and traveled back to where he had last seen her. From there he would widen his search in a spherical pattern until he found her. The human rifled through numerous cabins, all carbon copies of the first one he had been to. And in every one of them there was no sign of her. His frustration was quickly transforming into anxiety. It had been quite some time since she disappeared, anything could have happened to her. He was confident that she did not just up and get lost, nor would she purposely run away from him. That meant that something had happened to her. He remembered when she had adamantly told him she had seen something, thinking back to the strange bone-like object he had found. 'I should have listened to her.' In all likeliness, someone or something had probably taken her, all because he had dropped his guard. Alaric berated himself. 'I never should have left her on her own.' He needed to find her, for her safety and his own piece of mind. Alaric stopped searching the rooms. He doubted that she was still in the area at this point. She could be anywhere on this damn ship. It didn't help that the starliner was massive. It would take forever to comb it from top to bottom. Yet he was not easily deterred. He would find her. Alaric shouldered his determination and traveled deeper into the ship.

  Krystal groggily opened her eyes, her thoughts were a little jumbled and everything had a fuzzy look to it. With a groan, she sat up from what felt like a cushioned table. She shook her muzzle and tried to clear her thoughts as she rubbed a paw across her bleary eyes. "Ugh...where am I?" She had not been expecting an answer. "You're in a safe place." "Whaaa..." She yipped in surprise and turned to the voice. It did not sound like Alaric. "Who are you and where's Alaric?" The area round her was dark and she could not make out who was there. But judging by the voice it was a female. "Don't worry, I'm a friend." The hidden woman replied with a smile in her voice as she stepped forwards from the darkness. Krystal was stunned by who she saw. "Katt...?" The pink furred feline was grinning widely at Krystal as her reedy tail flicked lazily behind her. She was wearing a black sleeveless vest and white tank top with a pair of blue jeans and boots on her hindpaws. Strangely, her clothes looked a little ragged and stained and her fur was disheveled and unkempt. She knew the cat would never willingly let herself get like that. "The one and only. I must've scared ya because you fainted and I had to lug you back here. You aren't as light as you look girl." Katt giggled. "How? What are you doing here?" The vixen was still disorientated but she did remember where she was. What was Katt Monroe doing on the abandoned starliner? Last she heard the feline was flying solo somewhere near Papetoon. This was the last place she expected to find her. "I was flying protection for the starliner and after it happened. I got stranded here just like everyone else." Krystal sat up and got a better look at her surroundings. She was in sort of store, the bed she had been lying on was actually a display case with clothes tossed over it. The store itself was deserted, but the vixen could faintly hear movement and conversation outside its doors. She picked up on Katt's change of tone and looked to her. "It...?" The feline looked as if she had just been struck. " don't know what's going on here?" "No. Alaric and I were trying to find where everyone had gone." "Alaric?" The feline repeated with a raised brow. "Yes, the human I was with. Have you seen him?" The vixen asked, suddenly growing worried. "The only human here is in a coma. The others..." Katt trailed off absently. The cat shook her muzzle. "Anyways, did you and this Alaric encounter anything...strange?" "No. All we saw were endless abandoned hallways and rooms." The vixen frowned. "But there was that one time." "Really? Tell me what happened." Katt leaned forwards interestedly. Krystal got a little flustered. "Alright...well. Alaric went to go check a room and left me in the hallway. While he was gone..." She shuttered. "I could have sworn that there was something with me." She pointedly left out her embarrassing panic attack. "Well Krystal, you were incredibly lucky." "Why?" Instead of responding, Katt changed subjects. "Does this Alaric fellow have a ship?" "Yeah...of course." Krystal replied slowly. "How big? How many people can it fit?" "What does thi-" "Just humor me, Krystal...okay?" The cat cut in with a hint of desperation in her voice. "Okay...maybe twenty or thirty if you packed it full." "Damn." Katt scowled and leaned back in disappointment. Krystal was tired of her friend's constant evasion. The vixen wanted some answers and she wanted them now. "Katt, it's time you tell me what the hell is going on here." The pink feline sighed heavily and looked down. "All right Krys, I'll come clean. I just wanted you to be ignorant for a little while longer." At this Krystal felt unease slither through her. "What...what's happening here, Katt?" "Follow me. You need to see it to believe it." The feline replied reluctantly before turning to exit the store. Krystal nervously sat up from the makeshift bed and followed after her friend. The vixen did not like where this was going. She desperately wished that Alaric was with her right now. She could use his comforting presence. Outside the store, she saw that they were in some sort of huge mall-like area. The entire place was packed with lylatians. It looked like everyone in the ship had been jammed in here. And they all looked shell-shocked, like survivors of a war-torn city. Small groups of families were huddled together and most of the store lots were filled with just the same. 'Why did I not sense them all before?' She could sense them now, all frightened out of their wits. There were at least a thousand souls in the mall, but she could not sense any farther than that. And for a panicked moment, she realized that she could not sense Alaric either. The human's aura had completely vanished, as if he was dead. She reached out with her power as far as she could but still could not feel him. 'Where is he?!' Krystal forced herself to calm down, promising herself that he was fine wherever he was. That was all she could do at the moment and the vixen prayed it was true. "Come on, Krystal, it's just over here." Katt waived towards her friend who had fallen behind. She nodded and increased her pace, catching up just as Katt stopped at door with a pair of armed wolven security guards standing by the closed room with grim expressions on their muzzles. Krystal was alarmed to see dried blood on their uniforms and the one on the left had a bandage wrapped around his right eye. "Miss Monroe." The one on the right greeted tiredly. "Hey Lucas, I need to show my friend." She replied. The guard looked over the feline's shoulder to Krystal and nodded slowly. "Alright, but make sure she stays back. We have it chained up, but we don't know for sure how strong they are." Katt nodded in understanding. With that both guards turned to the door and opened it, walking inside. Katt took a deep breath to steel her nerves before she looked back to Krystal. "It's inside here." The vixen's anxiety skyrocketed. She still had no idea what they were talking about. What was this it they were talking about? There was only one way to find out. Krystal entered the room. Immediately her sharp nose picked up the cloying and revolting stench of decay that threatened to expose the contents of her stomach to the deck at her hindpaws. Krystal pinched her nose to block out most of the fetid smell and took shallow breaths as she went deeper into the dark room after the guards and Katt. It looked like this had once been the security room for the mall and she noticed that all the guns and armor on the wall had been taken, leaving it barren. Inside, there were several more guards in the same condition as the others. They were all staying far away from a room at the far end where they would put the shoplifters in. From inside the room she could hear banging and snarling, as if a rabid beast had been trapped within. The vixen felt a paw on her chest and looked down to see that Katt had stopped her. "Careful, Krys, don't get too close." With that comforting statement she and Katt traveled the rest of the way to the locked room. And when the vixen looked inside and saw its monstrous occupant she gagged in revulsion. She screamed internally. 'What is that thing?!' When she voiced what she thought, the feline responded. " the it." Katt replied with a nervous titter.  

  Alaric stepped into a giant antechamber. There were tables spread across its expanse and he could see a set of stairs that weaved all the way up to the top of the ship. A pair of elevators was also inside but they glowed red with dysfunction. The massive room itself was deathly silent. All that could be heard was his steady breathing and the thumping of his boots on the marbled tiles. This ship was bigger inside then he thought. Along the way he had found a functional terminal and had ripped the schematics for the starliner's deck plans and downloaded it into his RIG. If he was reading it right, he was close to the ship's bridge. And yet still he hadn't found hide nor hair of his companion. At this point he was starting to believe that something bad had really happened to her. 'She better be alright.'  Alaric activated the guidance system in the palm circuits of his right gauntlet and followed the guiding light up the stairs. This continued silence was eerie and the hairs on the back of his neck were raised. Alaric swiveled his head backwards and stared down the stairs into a well of blackness. He had climbed a hefty distance and the bottom was shrouded in the dark. 'First thing I fix, ship's lighting.' A shadow flickered down below and he quickly pointed the light on his pulse rifle into the void. "Krystal?" He called out cautiously. After standing still and not receiving an answer he turned away and continued his ascent. 'Where is that damn vixen?' He resolved himself with heading to the bridge. If he could restore full functionality to the ship's systems the job of finding her would be made much easier and perhaps he could read the captain's logs and find out what happened here. But the most important thing was finding her. He would feel better when he did.  Alaric stopped at the top of the stairs and followed the blue light towards the bridge. It was only about a ten minute walk away. He followed the now carpeted floor until he stopped at an imposing pair of heavy duty doors. Authorized personnel only, was plastered in bold red cautionary letters of lylatian script. Off to the side was a small rectangular paw scanner. He would have a tough time cracking the encryptions on these. Their security was bound to be tougher on this level. He ripped the panel open and summoned a hacking tool from his RIG storage. The small pad had a handful of color-coded wired that he connected to ports in the inner circuitry of the scanner and began to play around with the security system. It was long and arduous work and would take at least five minutes to crack it. Three minutes in there was a brief nose behind him, something hitting the softly carpeted floor of the hallway in the distance. He paused and craned his head over his shoulder, seeing movement far away, too far to make out anything besides its humanoid appearance. Even the light from his gun did not reach that far, strangled by the imposing darkness a few meters from the tip of his rifle. Alaric let the pad hang from its connection and shouldered his rifle before backtracking towards the figure. The closer he got, the stranger it looked. There were odd lumps coming from the figure's shoulders and they looked slightly...distended. Within a hundred meters off the figure, his RIG popped out an announcement tone and startled him. Alaric glanced down to his bracer and read the scrolling text as it appeared, his unease growing with every bold faced word. The last announcement made his blood run cold. Establishing wireless connection with other RIG operator... .............. .............. Connection established... Downloading operator profile.... .............. Download complete... Name: Adam Wheeler Blood type: O+ Military ID#: 42-588-326 Station: The Undying Registered security officer For further information, please contact fellow operator Warning! Vital signs undetected for Adam Wheeler, please seek medical attention immediately. Alaric looked back up to the distorted shadowy figure at the end of the hallway and began to back up slowly. He had no idea what was going on. But at the moment his instincts were screaming at him to maintain his distance. Something was very, very wrong here. Suddenly, the figure rushed towards him, emitting a spine-chilling howl that did not belong in any pair of human lungs. Alaric's heart took a dive and he aimed his pulse rifle at the charging apparition, squeezing the trigger frantically as he backpedaled towards the locked doors of the bridge. The last thing on his mind at that moment was that he was currently shooting at a fellow human. The figure stumbled under the fusillade of pulse rounds slamming into his center of mass and collapsed to the floor. Alaric turned tail and sprinted towards the doors, grabbing the hacking tool and hurriedly trying to unlock them. An enraged growl filled the hall and he turned back to watch in disbelief and horror as the figure scrambled back to its feet. 'What the fuck?!' He had thrown enough lead down range to drop ten men. There was no way in the realm of possibility that this Adam Wheeler was still alive. Yet despite the laws of nature, the shadowy figure balanced itself before resuming its breakneck charge. Alaric scrambled for the fore-grip of his rifle and throttled the trigger in a white knuckled grip and an avalanche of weapons fire. Even after the body hit the ground again he continued shooting, only stopping after the gun clattered empty. He reloaded the weapon, fumbling with the clip in adrenaline fueled gauntlets and stared at the distant body. After it had not moved for a few minutes he sighed in relief and lowered his rifle. What was that thing? It had definitely not been any human he knew. They tended to die after a bullet or fifteen. He took a step forwards to inspect the body and maybe figure what exactly in the hell he had been shooting at. But his plan was interrupted when he heard more movement farther down the corridor. 'Fuck that royally!' He scampered back to the doors and finished the hack. "Scan accepted, welcome back, Captain Taylor." An automated female voice announced before they clicked and popped open. He didn't wait another second and pulled the heavy doors open all the way as the noises behind him grew louder. Once inside he pushed them closed with a bang and locked it. He panted breathlessly and stepped back from the closed barriers. "What in the hell? What the actual fuck?" He leaned forwards and sucked in air like a bellows as his body attempted to breakdown the adrenaline that had been suddenly dumped into his system. Several minutes later and he had settled down. 'What did the UEG get me into? They sure as hell didn't tell me anything about whatever the fuck that thing was.' What had they really been doing here? They had not been one hundred percent transparent with him. From a distance it had looked like a person, but it was He had not gotten a good look at what he had been shooting, but he had a feeling it was not human, RIG message be damned. No human could absorb bullets like sponge, not without dying, and sure as hell not getting back up for more. 'Well at least that explains what happened to the ship.' No doubt whatever that was is responsible for the state of the starliner and why its residents were nowhere to be found. If they had half a mind they would have buggered off to someplace they could fortify. Alaric's heart suddenly stopped beating as a revelation overcame him. Is that what had happened to Krystal? Had one of these things grabbed her? He hoped to all the gods that be that it was not true. He had to find her as soon as possible. His mission was now a secondary objective, if it even still applied anymore. If things like he had just fought were roaming the ship, he had to get to her before they did. He refused to entertain the thought that they might have already got to her. Alaric turned to explore the bridge. The sooner he got things running again the sooner he could find her.  

  Krystal studied the creature raving madly inside the small cell. Somehow, they managed to tether it to the bed with layers upon layers of bindings and handcuffs. She was not envious of the guards who had been forced to do it. The monster, as there was no other way to identify the thing she saw before her, had once been human from what Katt told her. But it did not look like a human or any other sentient being she had seen before. Its bones were warped into obscene angles and its flesh sloughed off its body in certain places while stretched to unbelievable lengths over others. Two curved and bladed talon-like appendages burst from openings on its wildly thrashing shoulders and a small pair of vestigial arms wiggled from its open bowels, exposing its rotten intestines to the open air and no doubt the cause of the horrible stench in the guard room. Yet, the worst part of this twisted amalgamation of nightmares was its face. Whatever life that had existed in this person's eyes before the change was gone, replaced by a ravenous and dull luster. Its jaw was fragmented into a gut-wrenching arsenal of razor sharp mandibles and clumps of wiry hair still clung to its ruined scalp. The eyes were what got to Krystal. She could feel the hunger radiating from them, even at a distance of several meters. This creature wanted to eat her and everyone else in the room and she doubted that would satisfy its lust for flesh. Not only that but she could feel nothing from it. There was no soul, no sense of existence, inside the creature. It was literally a biological machine with one sole purpose. "I-I-I've seen enough." She choked out tearfully, turning her head away from the gruesome sight. The thought that it had once been a living, breathing, feeling person horrified her. Katt nodded sympathetically and placed a paw on her friends shoulder to comfort her as she led the vixen away from the cell and towards the doors. "It isn't pretty to look at, that's for sure." Once outside the room, Krystal went to the closest wall and retched, emptying her breakfast onto the deck. Katt rubbed her friend on the back tenderly and let her ride it out, chuckling softly to herself. "You're taking it better than I did. I didn't even make it out of the room." Krystal spat out the bile in her mouth and whipped her muzzle with her furred forearm, turning to Katt with a distressed expression. "How did that happen? How did all of this happen?" She needed to know how something like that could exist. It was beyond an atrocity, a mockery of life. The pink feline sighed and grabbed her tail, petting it for comfort. "A few days ago I was patrolling the area around The Magenta, watching for pirates. On my way back from my patrol I saw a ship drifting lifelessly. It was just floating there, engines completely destroyed. Immediately I called it in and the starliner moved to dock. We were trying to rescue any survivors....if only I had never seen it." Katt shook her muzzle sadly. "Anyways, we docked of course and after we opened the hatch a half crazed human ran out screaming about monsters. The guards thought he was suffering from an overload of stress and maybe a little delirium to boot so they took him to the clinic and sent some guys inside to check it out. They never came back. Before they could assemble a new group to find the missing one, those things emerged." Katt scoffed grimly. "Twenty guards you know...some of the toughest guys I had ever met, veterans of the Lylat wars. And those monsters tore them to pieces in seconds. It all went downhill after that. I barely got escaped with my life. The captain had everyone evacuate to the mall and we locked it down. No one in or out, and it seemed the things couldn't either." She flicked a padded thumb towards the room. "We got that about a day ago, found it trying to claw its way in from a bulkhead. It never would have been able to but we grabbed it all the same. That little rodeo had not been fun." She felt her side in remembrance. "Got a cracked rib or two..." Krystal let what her friend told her simmer in her thoughts. It was still hard to believe, and she just got a look first hand. It was hard because she did not want to. She did not want to believe that something like this could happen. This ship was filled with monsters, a very real nightmare. "How did you find me?" Katt shrugged. "That one's easy. I was scavenging for supplies. There are a lot of mouths to feed here and the mall only had so much food. I was on my way back from the kitchens with a few bags of food when I ran into you." "How did you make it?" The pink cat grinned proudly. "I'm pretty sneaky when I have to be and it's pretty easy to stay away from them if you're alone out there. Too much ground for them to cover. Not that it was easy having to lug you back with me. I'll say though, never thought to see you just wandering around here. You gave me quite a shock as well. I thought you were still working with Fox. What happened with that? Is Mister Hero here as well? We could sure use his help." Krystal shook her muzzle. "No. It was just me and Alaric." "You keep mentioning this Alaric guy. Who exactly is he?" Katt inquired curiously. "I know he's a human but not much else." "The team and I met him on Fuscina after he helped me and Slippy in a bar. He was looking for the missing human ship you guys found." "Running off with some stranger, Krystal? And a male no less, what's with that eh?" Katt asked with a sly smile. "It's nothing like that!" The vixen retorted indignantly. "I just had a hunch that I should follow him." Katt raised her paws defensively. "Alright...alright, just grinding you gears girl, don't take my head off." Krystal was about to scold her friend when she realized something that she should have a long time ago. 'Alaric!' "Oh no! Alaric is still out there with those things. He has no idea that they're here! They'll kill him for sure! We have to do something, Katt!" The vixen looked about franticly, tail lashing erratically. Katt grabbed her friend's shoulders and tried to hold her still. "Calm down, Krystal! There's nothing we can do. With the ship's systems are down which means the security cameras are as well. There's no way to find him without them." "So we just let him die! Is that what you're saying?" Krystal snarled, barring her fangs and raising her hackles. "No, of course not!" Katt snapped back. "What I'm saying is that it would be stupid to run out there like a bunch of headless chickens. We'd be in no condition to help him and would only get ourselves killed." Krystal forced herself to calm down. The thought of leaving him out there alone had riled her up. The vixen was startled that she had reacted so violently. "You're right of course, Katt. I'm sorry." The feline smiled reassuringly. "It's no biggie, Krysie. I'd be surprised if you didn't act crazy, I'd act crazy." "So...what do we do?" "Well for starters..." Katt replied as she led her friend away from the entrance of the guard room. "We should clean you up a little bit." Krystal looked down to herself and saw that she had flecks of stomach bile in her fur. "Right..." She agreed in embarrassment.  

  "Well isn't this just fan-fuckintastic." Alaric muttered angrily as he finished his examination of the bridge, closing the sheet of metal under the console in front of him. Nothing worked. The whole bridge was offline. None of the major systems had enough power to work. The only things that still functioned were life support and artificial gravity. The generators must be either damaged or working under full strength. There was power in the ship, but it was spread too thin amongst hundreds of individual systems. He supposed it might be possible to reroute some of it to restore a few vital systems, but which ones? The human studied the consoles around him and took time to figure out what each one did. There was one for primary, secondary, and tertiary systems. It looked like they ran the whole starliner from here. He went back to the panels and cut power to systems he knew would not affect anything too important. He doubted that the ship needed to maintain its pool cleaning machines at the moment. Once he had shut down thirty or so unneeded functions, there was sufficient power to turn on three vital systems, a balanced trade in his book. The dim bridge slowly started to illuminate as the light strips in the ceiling kicked in with a steady flicker. Unfortunately, he could not restore lighting to the entire ship, but he could at least get a good portion of it back up and running again. The console informed him that the engineering deck and the four levels above it were still mostly dark. One other thing he managed to do was lift the lockdowns on several doors, allowing him access to more of the ship. But for some reason he could not open the level where the docking tube for the Undying was on, it appeared that there was a manual override in place that he would have to physically switch off. The screen in from of him alerted him to a drain in power. The text was telling him that a large portion of the newly freed energy was being siphoned to the shopping mall on Deck-A. Perhaps that was where all the lylatians had fled to. He tried to activate the security cameras to see if his thesis was true but it looked like the controls for that had been rerouted as well. That made his job much harder. This left Alaric with an ethical dilemma. He could use the remaining freed energy to power the comms relay on the ship and call for aid from the lylatian government, failing his mission but ultimately saving anyone still alive on the ship. Or he could leave it offline, able to finish his mission without interference but most likely dooming the survivors. If he did the right thing, help would arrive in the form of lylatian ships. They would be able to save the survivors and deal with this threat. But...they would uncover the truth behind the human ship's purpose (whatever the hell it was), possibly tarnishing humanity's reputation. This would mean his contract with the UEG would be voided and he would end up imprisoned once more, if they did not outright kill him. The thought of going back to that hellish gulag frightened him, back to the pain and darkness. After having a taste of freedom, he could not face a return trip. However, if he disabled the comms system all together no one would be able to use it, condemning the survivors to whatever fate awaited them. But this would allow him sufficient time to find a way into the Undying and figure out what had caused this. He knew from experience that all infiltration vessels used quantum entanglement communicators and he could use the one on the Undying to call the UEG and fulfill his contractional obligations, thus granting him his freedom.    It all came down to one thing. How much he valued his own life. Did he think it was more important than those of a thousand others? Was he willing to sacrifice them all for his own selfish desires? Was he willing to sacrifice Krystal? The only one who had ever shown him selfless compassion? The right answer was as obvious as it was difficult to accept. No. He could not do it. What was freedom if it was bought with the blood of the innocent? If he allowed himself to do that he would be no better than the butcher the Sovereign Colonies made him out to be. He would be falling back into his old role, this time of his own devices. Alaric could not consciously make such a decision. He wanted to show the universe and himself that he was no demon. He was a good man with a good heart. And no upright person, human or otherwise, would place themselves so high as to think they were more important than so many others. With a heavy sigh, Alaric transferred the remaining power to the comms system and tried to activate the starliner's emergency beacon. But instead, the console flashed a red warning symbol. Emergency beacon unresponsive, relay dish has suffered damage. Repairs are needed before beacon is able broadcast. 'Of course when I try to do the right thing nothing works.' Alaric growled in frustration and located the radar dish. It was on the top of the hull somewhere near the middle of the ship. He should be able to reach it via EVA. He looked for the closest hatch. It looked like the closest one was near Deck-A, above the mall. That meant he had to get there just to use the airlock. That was a long distance from the bridge, kilometers of interwoven corridors with any number of those things he fought in-between here and his objective. Alaric steeled himself for what must be done and headed towards the doors to the bridge. WARNING! BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINTION DETECTED, INITIATING LOCKDOWN PROCEDURES. A deep robotic masculine voice thundered inside the bridge. Thick bulkheads slammed down, blocking the doors and the armored shutters reeled down from the bridges viewport as dark orange hazard lights strobed through the room. Alaric could hear the air vents locking down in a similar manner before everything went silent.   "Great...what now?" He muttered in exasperation. "I swear this ship is fu-" BANG! One of the vents in the room shuddered under some sort of powerful force, as if something was trying to claw its wat in. "What in the...." BANG! BANG! The violent tempo increased and he could see the vent's bloated sheeting as it crumpled under extreme force. An unearthly howl reverberated through the deck and shook the very air. BANG! One final hit and the vent exploded, showering the room in shrapnel. Alaric covered his face as shards of steel bounced off his forearm and sprinkled to the ground. He heard something drop to the floor with a wet sounding flop and dropped his arms in alarm. He couldn't see anything with the amber strobe lights throwing everything off. He could hear scuttling, like talons scrapping across steel and his eyes caught movement in the back corner but it was distorted by the flashing lights. The whole room took on an ominous atmosphere with the erratic lighting and strange sounds. Alaric scanned around him with his rifle and backed up to the wall behind him. It was his best option at the moment. The wall would cover his flank. Something whipped across his vison and he ducked as a series of thuds hit the wall behind him. He looked back for a second and saw a series of barbed spikes buried into the thick steel. They looked organic, not like any weapon or munition he had ever laid eyes on. Not forgetting his enemy he turned back just in time to feel a heavy weight pin him to the wall shortly before a searing pain wrapped around his shoulder. 

Confrontations II

Halo: First Contact Chapter 6: Confrontations II Lieutenant Nicholas Steinberg sat in the pilot's seat of his longsword, nervously fiddling with the control panel. He still could not believe what was happening. It all seemed like a bad dream....

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Past Sins

Shattered: Redux Chapter XII: Past Sins _Only you can absolve yourself of the sins of the past..._ _-Anonymous_ _ _ The reinforced doors slammed shut with a clang, sealing off the cafeteria from the howling monsters swarming just on the other side...

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Starfox: Liberation Chapter 8: Abyss If you stare too long into the stares back... -Anonymous Alaric twisted the coupling of wires and sparks flew as the door light flashed from green to red. Satisfied, he pulled back from the console and...

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