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Location: Kaldor City


Post by thunda »

The reverberation of two pairs of standard Federation military boots doing a routine sweep provided an eerie percussion to a trooper’s off-key singing. When Forres enlisted he was told that in the service he would ‘see the galaxy,’ this, however, fell short of what he expected. He couldn’t decide which was worse: endless foot patrols at the edge of the system alone, or endless foot patrols at the edge of the system with a partner who kept singing the same ballad over and over and over again. Forres braced for another round.

“The say he was an angel
Long before he fell
Together with his faithful
To the deepest pits of hell

He’s seen with many faces
He’s called by many names
He’s known on every planet
For all the countless souls he’s claimed

Death and destruction
The screams of the damned
Herald his arrival
When he walks the world of man

His servants will precede him
To pave their master’s way
To mark the souls that he intends
To bring to hell this day

So if he pays a visit
Then my sympathy to you
Cause when the devil comes a callin’
He always claims his due”

The crooning trooper tilted his head back and bellowed the last verse once more with gusto. After he finished he turned to Forres as if expecting applause; receiving none, he cleared his throat and prepared for another encore.

“So, Girt,” interrupted Forres, “where did you say you learned that?”

“Picked it up from the previous occupants of the planet,” replied Girt with a gruff voice. “Superstitious lot, and stubborn. Better off without them.”

Forres stared at the dark gray floor as they marched and saw his grandmother, a sweet old woman with old calendar superstitious ways, and who wouldn’t hesitate to tell you about them. When not going on about how the water and food weren’t drugged back in the old days, her favorite tale was about the first Terran President, a lowly civil servant until he made a deal with the devil. Promised his soul in exchange for power, but once he became President he reneged on the deal. He thought he could outsmart the devil by closing all places of worship and doing away with religion. If no one believed in the devil anymore, surely he would cease to exist.

“You all right, kid?” said Girt.


“You’ve only been here a few days, Forres, once you get used to it you’ll see this is a sweet assignment. Protecting a fuel depot on the outskirts of the system for long range cruisers that rarely pay a visit. Sweet,” said Girt. “May I never leave this spot.”

Beneath his protective mask Forres’ face scrunched. On the transport here the crew talked about things happening in the outer systems that went unexplained, strange things. Pursuit ships disappearing, communications disrupted, and Saurian Major hadn’t been heard from in weeks. Forres had mentioned it, but when met with several rounds of laughter from Girt and the boys he dismissed it. “I wish I were closer to Earth,” Forres thought out loud.

He felt Girt staring at him. “I meant, I wish I were closer to Earth,” he added, “so I could see some action, go on campaigns.”

“Too bad you weren’t here a few months ago when the settlers were still around,” said Girt. “You would have seen plenty of action.”

“The settlers? They were relocated to another planet, right?”

“Relocated?” Laughed Girt. “Is that what Space Command told everyone?”

Forres’s follow-up question was interrupted by the dual tone shriek of the station’s security alarm which froze him in place. He grasped his weapon and looked from side to side.

“Ignore it.” Girt neither paused nor glanced back at Forres. “Probably Maintenance doing a System Check. Happens all the time, it will stop in a minute.”


“Ignore it,” said Girt, his firearm dangling from one hand as he continued on their assigned rounds. “We’re out here at the edge of the system locked down tighter than a drum. What could possibly happen to us?”

Adrenalin fueled Forres causing him to bounce on the balls of his feet as he hurried up to Girt. He alternated peering over his shoulder with glancing at his nonchalant partner.

After several more minutes of the intermittent wail Girt finally halted and shook his head. “Fine,” he sighed. “Come on, kid, let’s sort this out.”

Girt spun on his heels and loped in the opposite direction with Forres a few paces behind him. They preceded to check doors, making sure those that were supposed to be locked, were, and those that weren’t supposed to be, weren’t. When the corridor branched into another one Girt gestured with his head for Forres to take that route.

“Don’t shoot yourself by accident, rookie,” said Girt.

Forres rubbed his neck and bit his lower lip as Girt disappeared. He accepted that Girt was probably right; even if someone managed to get by two security perimeters and state of the art surveillance, he would have to walk through walls in order to get this far. Most likely this was another prank by some of the others.

Forres cocked his head. He thought he heard sounds from around the corner he was approaching. Shouts, crackling, it was hard to tell.

“Hello? Identify yourself.” Forres advanced, repeating his challenge a bit louder. Still no response, he raised his plasma rifle and became as quiet as his Federation gear allowed. Knees bent, gun extended, he crept closer. Finger firmly on the trigger, back arched, closer. A big gulp of air, he sprang.

“You... I...” Forres lowered his gun and released a long breath at the sight of the familiar black garb. “I nearly-”

The trooper didn’t reply. He shambled closer with strained, jerked movements. After two more steps he swayed, as if caught in the wind, then collapsed at Forres’ feet like a stringless marionette.

“If you’re having fun with me...” Forres took a knee to touch the shoulder of his prone fellow trooper. “You okay?”

The awkward position and the smell of burnt flesh answered his question. Forres struggled to keep his lunch down and it took several forced breaths to steady himself enough to raise his head. At first glance what appeared to be shadows, were, on closer observation, several troopers sprawled on the floor. Forres made note of the smoke rising from their torsos.

To mark the souls he intends
To bring to hell this day

The hairs rose on his neck while his mouth became so dry it was hard to swallow. Down the pathway, something stirred in the darkness. The silhouette it cast was huge, huge enough to make Forres clutch his trembling rifle with numb fingers and backpedal. He had to find Girt, Girt would know what to do. He retreated slowly, orderly, at first, then his legs acquired a mind of their own and shuffled backwards until his feet went out from under him and the floor rushed to greet him. Forres heart threatened to burst out his chest when he saw what he stumbled over. Girt.

Girt’s body wasn’t the only reason he was terrified, the silhouette was galloping towards him. Forres scratched and clawed for his gun only to find a boot in his way. He traced it up to its lanky limbed owner, a she demon, tall and lithe, with an icy demeanor. She pointed a wand at him, so close he felt the hellfire, smelled the brimstone. He eyed his weapon.

<You’ll be dead before you reach it>

Forres stiffened. He heard her. Her lips never moved yet over the blaring siren he heard her. He hadn’t fully processed it when massive paws hoisted him into the wall. White spots floated in front of Forres as he looked down at the snarling beast. It growled with bared teeth, fogging up Forres’s face-shield, then hurled him to the opposite side. Bones rattled as the oxygen was forced from his lungs and Forres slid into a broken mess. It was then that he saw him.

He swaggered down the hall with purposeful strides while he surveyed his servants’ work. The stance he settled in was one of power, authority, and reeked of arrogance. Whether pleased or not was unknown as his inhuman visage betrayed nothing. His eyes, however, were a different story; beneath his dark, curly mane, eyes blazed with vengeance, the type of vengeance that could only be forged from suffering. He cast a contemptuous gaze on Forres, briefly, yet long enough to chill his blood. Forres was too afraid to breath let alone move.

Explosions erupted, sending fire and quakes through the corridor. The trio stood uncaring while sparks, flames, and smoke danced unfettered around them. Forres covered his head while squeezing his eyelids together several times to get a better look and... they were no longer there. Melted into the ether or returned to whatever hellish pit they crawled out of. In their wake more thunder roared from secondary blasts causing the structure to groan in agony, like a mortally wounded animal thrashing in its death throes. Concrete and metal rained down on Forres enveloping him in darkness.

Forres was dragged back to consciousness by shouting along with the sensation of being vigorously shaken. Heavy eyelids raised sporadically to reveal dark blurs taking shape. As reality asserted itself so did the throbbing in his head, the ringing in his ears, and every breath was a penetrating dagger. Being helped to a sitting position only intensified the pain.

“Report, trooper,” the shouting in front of him formed into a Section Leader. “What happened here?”

Forres stared straight ahead with glazed eyes replaying the past events unclear how long ago they actually occurred. As the Section Leader repeated his question Forres gathered himself.

“It was the devil,” Forres responded, “come to collect his due.”
"Women, food, and inflicting pain -- in no particular order."
- The Fifth Legion
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