Prologue [Part 2 of 3]
::EARLIER THAT DAY
The Mars City Military Base never really got much excitement. Most of the “excitement” was Sarge barking orders and mission briefings. Generally search and rescue, some patrol missions, babysitting the eggheads to make sure one of them doesn’t try to make a run for it. As if there’s anywhere to run here, but the UAC hires people to work and, damn it, we’re going to do it.
I never got a whole lot of off time and the few minutes I had in between duties I was usually preparing for the next item on my To Do List.
“Hey, man, how’s it going?”, sounded a familiar voice behind me.
“Eh, same shit different day.” I replied, “It’s been boring as hell around here lately.”
“Yeah, I hear ya.” He said with a laugh “I’m thinking about catching a shuttle back to Earth”
“Yeah, I’m planning a vacation with my girl back at home. I bought her a ring last time I was there, but they shipped me back up here before I had a chance to give it to her.”
“Oh…” The mentioning of his girlfriend reminded me of similar times I once shared not too long ago.
“You still think about her, don’t you?” He said, interrupting my brief
I had recently gone through a break-up back at home. My presence in the UAC as a marine began to weigh heavily on our relationship. Then, one day, it just snapped. We had a big argument, many words were said, many of them I regret. Once things settled, we decided to stop seeing each other, and we peacefully went our separate ways, but I never stopped thinking about her.
“Don’t take it too hard. These kinds of things just happen. You should take some leave time too. It'll be just like the good ol' days .”
Before I could respond, Sarge came into the room. We all immediately stood at attention.
“Marines, We got a situation on the Phobos Base. They are reporting attacks by an unknown enemy force. More Intel will be given on the way there. Get your shit together and get your asses to the hangar. I'm giving you 3 minutes. Let's move it, people!"
After that, it was all asses and elbows. Everyone was running here, there, grabbing equipment, and arming themselves. Every once and a while I would pick up small bits of hushed conversation. People saying things like:
“I knew this would happen, with all that crazy shit they’re doing up there. “
“Yeah, I’ve heard some really fucked up stories about some of the shit they do up there. I heard this one guy…”
I would have liked to have heard the rest of the conversation but I didn’t have time. I figured whatever had been going on at the Phobos Base would become apparent when we get there. For now, I needed to stay focused. Complete the objective, ask questions later.
A few of our guys were already aboard the dropship by the time I arrived. Some of them looked worried. Most of us were. For the veterans, it was just another day’s work. Just another hell-hole. Get in, do your job, get out. Hoorah.
Sarge was already there. The last few marines boarded the vehicle and the air-lock sealed shut. Then, the briefing began.
"Alright, people, listen up, 'cause I'm only going over this once. As you already know, a situation came up on the Phobos Base. We believe the attacks are originating from the anomaly north of the base, where the UAC is experimenting with new Teleportation technology. The results are far from pretty."
Sarge pressed a button on the remote and the video screen behind him flickered to life. The video showed a small team of scientists, one of them holding what appeared to be a Basketball. Behind them a large portal opened up. The portal looked like a large circular field of energy that seemed to distort the space around it. The scientist tossed the ball into the portal and in a flash of light it disappeared. A few seconds went by, then there was another flash of light and the ball bounced back into the room, unscathed.
"What you just saw was the first successful test of the effect of teleportation on an inanimate object. The object was, in fact, received at the Deimos Base where a portal was constructed at a similar anomaly found near the base. However, once they started using live human subjects later on, that's when the project really went to shit."
The video changed and now showed the same scientists in the same room, now struggling to restrain an apparently insane male test subject. I noticed one of the scientists in the background clutching her arm. Her entire sleeve was stained with blood from a severe wound apparently inflicted by the crazed man who was now flailing his head wildly in protest at being restrained. The team managed to secure the subject's arms and legs to the table with some rope before one of the team stepped away to tend to the other scientist's wounds. As the video progressed the restrained man eventually turned his berserker rage onto himself and started chewing at his own arm in an effort to escape. His cries of pain escalated, howling in agony as he began gnawing through nerves and muscle, and eventually he wrenched his arm in such a way that the bone just snapped with a sickening pop. Despite his sobs and painful wailing he continued. He eventually gave his arm another tug and it separated just below the shoulder. He managed to chew halfway through the wrist of his opposite arm before he died of blood loss. The room fell eerily silent.
I heard a sound come from beside me. I looked and noticed the guy next to me looked like he was about to puke.
not on me, not on me...
"The first subjects sent through the portal came back extremely ill. Symptoms of severe nausea and chronic migraines. The symptoms eventually developed into dementia and extreme mental instability, like the subject you just saw. More recent subjects came back in pieces and occasionally not at all."
He paused for a second and then continued.
"The last report we received described what they called an invasion, Expect a heavy resistance. We'll be landing at the Hangar where we have troops holding back the enemy as we speak. We cannot lose that hangar. Other objectives will follow, but the Hangar is our first priority. Any Questions?"
A couple hands raised.
"What's the status of the Deimos Base? If the enemy is originating from within the portal wouldn't they be facing the same problem?"
"No one has heard from the Deimos Base," Sarge answered. "but we've sent some defensive squads there just in case. Next question."
"What exactly are we fighting anyway?" Said the guy across from me.
Sarge took a moment to think about the question. He looked around, searching for an answer. In the end, all he could manage was, "I don't know, but be ready for anything."
This was the first time I've heard Sarge say the words "I don't know," and quite frankly it made me slightly uncomfortable. I could tell it bothered him as much as it bothered me. Sarge was always prepared, ready for anything. Before any mission he always gathered as much Intel as he could to make sure we knew exactly what we were up against. If there was a sneeze, we were already there 10 minutes ago to catch it. Hearing him admit that he was unsure of any part of the mission didn't sit well.
It was a quiet ride to Phobos. The only sound was the low droning whine of the ship's engines. We all wanted to break the silence, but none of us could find the words. There were no jokes, no war stories, no words of wisdom, confidence, or even comfort. There were no prayers. Just a room of silence, confusion, and dread. As much as we all wanted to get off of the ship and get some action, we all dreaded what was waiting for us on the surface. I think, for the first time, there was even a hint of fear in the air within the Dropship. The videos we saw were only intended to prepare us for what's coming, but I think they hit a disturbing nerve in us all.
Last edited by Shadow Dweller on 09-14-10 at 22:44