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Bad Luck Ranger

Vultures in Hades: The Story so far...

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Doom: Vultures of Hades.
Chapter One.

Pretty much everything had changed after the incident, as if everything had been erased from Earth's history. We were no longer humans but gypsies travelling to another world another place to live. It happened in a blink of an eye, one man remained to battle the alien hordes on Mars' moons of Phobos and Deimos but when the last spent pistol casing dropped to the floor in near perfect unison to the last of the demons that was only the beginning.
His name has been lost in time; over two generations have past along with so many wars. First it was the demons, then sinister dimensional pariahs it like a breath of fresh air when we went to battle against a truly alien race known as the Strogg. It was like a walk in the park compared to the last two threats.
We prevailed and now we're currently residing on Stroggos. The majority comports in poverty while the wealthier minorities live in glass Hab-Domes in luxury where cerebral numbing drugs allow them to endure a life of complete bliss while outside the "palace gates" the unfortunates are treated like vermin. Forced to endure a strict regime based on extreme taxation and curfew. The smartest sought to leave and to stake their fortune among the stars as Scavengers but even this was scrutinised by the ultra-conglomerate known as the Union Aerospace Corporation and so Scavengers were now labelled outlaws and deemed illegitimate.
Long before the demons and battles on Phobos and Deimos the UAC was one of Earth's leading consumer companies, they controlled everything from mining on Jupiter to children toys. They then started pumping funds into military research and cross-dimensional travel. They even coined the term; Slipgates. But something dreadfully wrong emerged from these portals, soon people started to die and a Great War was raged. Soon it was just one man on Earth battling for his people's right to flee the scarred planet though he prevailed the threat was still there albeit a small one. The demons lived like vultures in the wasteland and to make a long story short no body really took any notice. The majority of Earth's population had left in a great exodus leaving only a few million.
The silver dart etched across the night sky as it prepared to enter the Mars atmosphere. The Dreadnought class vessel must have been at least seventy years old, the ship was half a mile in size and fifty foot tall, this excludes the long eighty foot long "fangs" that belched from the bottom of the main section of the ship. In all it resembled an insect with two large sections one at the front and one at the back with a smaller adjoining section in the middle. These Scavengers were like family, five in total and that's excluding the maintenance Kleggs. Kleggs were cheap labour, small dog sized robots, they looked like small domes with two inverted chicken-like legs. Dawson; the ship's Sector Captain had them customary reprogrammed to have built in emotions he found that they worked more efficiently and if you were lucky you might be able to hold a nice possibly intelligent conversation with one. For Scavengers, Kleggs were common place and often used hence why they come in box of twenties. The five strong crew considered Kleggs not just as labourers but as companions unlike most ships whose crew would go through boxes of the things as if they were condoms.
Dawson was an aspiring military man, he had the knowledge and the determination but some where along the line he became a Scavenger and thus was no longer acceptable to qualify. He was of medium build and a typical Caucasian New Briton. Along with the rest of the crew he was a New Briton with the exception of the ship's cook who was a Neo American. His name was Browning a headstrong dark coloured man with a broad accent. McKintyre and McKinley had both known each other since they were young. McKinley was a young bourbon haired woman with great charisma while the brown-haired McKintyre always had his eye on Myers the ships pilot. The dark shorthaired women had no time for idiots and would often wittingly brush McKintyre off though she secretly enjoyed the attention. All were certified mechanics but they were all Jack of all trades. If a job needed doing they would do it even if they did do a "bodged" job! The atmosphere was rarely tense and like I said, they were like family.
Their plan was to enter Mars' atmosphere to save fuel. Send a bunch of Kleggs to some old pre-war research facility on Phobos and if the containment field was still operational then a Scavenge party would be sent. Myers and Dawson sat alone on the ship's bridge; Browning was making dinner while McKintyre and McKinley were calibrating the crews Rebreather Helmets. If the Kleggs report that reserve power is off line they might have to don full off world combat gear. The ship had one set of old Strogg War compound armour, the armour plating were moulded to allow maximum protection, the underlying suit was thin but high resistant. The plating could easily clip off and be replaced if damaged. McKintyre loved all the old war stuff but had never been given the chance to try it on. The vessel even had it's own Armoury since this particular class of ship had originally been used during the Strogg War. Dawson would spend a lot of his spare time in training room. Him and Browning would play a few rounds of Virtual Capture the Flag regularly. Near enough everyone was competent with a weapon it was compulsory at school but Dawson being Dawson would spend hours after hours pumping round after round in the training simulators honing his technique and skill. Dawson and Myers had finally received the report from the Kleggs; they had entered the Hanger without a problem via the air conditioning ducts. The containment field was also barely functional it seemed the Scavenged party was definitely going in. Browning also knew basic deep space medicine; this entailed compulsory deep space decontamination methods. He administered the Scavenge party anti-bodies. The party consisted of Dawson, McKinley and Browning himself. Myers stayed onboard along with McKintyre to report the progress. Someone had to stay onboard and they chose the short straws.
The two of them watched as the shuttle drifted away towards Phobos unaware that the intrepid trio was heading into the lion's den.

Chapter Two.

Browning should have listened to his presentiment, he had a gut feeling on the way to the Phobos base but when he mentioned this to McKinley she just laughed. They landed just a few yards from the Hanger, the entrance door was slightly jammed and it appeared to have seen better days. The place felt sinister and foreboding and finally McKinley was on the same wavelength as Browning. Nervously he tended to the straps of his Rebreather helmet.
"Stop that." Sharply asserted McKinley. His nervous fidgeting was making her nervous but Dawson mutely shrugged it off though even he held his Plasma Rifle tighter then before.
McKinley preyed off the locking mechanism to the door and reached for the safety release switch. The door loudly and sluggishly opened. Acrid smoke emerged from the darkened doorway. They entered; McKinley shaken from the automatic lighting jumped and gave a faint squeal. The lighting hypnotically blinked on while some of the lights were not operational. Near by computer terminals lit up as their backup reserves kicked in, each terminal whirred into life each giving out a faint fan noise.
Dawson removed his helmet and immediately choked on the dense air.
"Jesus! The smell…" He coughed out as he spat on the floor.
Browning then in turn removed his helmet but cautiously allowing himself to become familiar with the rotten air.
“Smells like a tomb… what happened here?” Questioned Browning.
Dawson reluctantly answered, “Well, this was sort of the place where…” he swallowed his pride, “where the Great War first took place.” His tone jump back into his familiar friendly pace. “But they’re all gone now!” He removed a small air humidifier from his pocket to cleanse the air.
Browning and McKinley were awe struck. Dawson began to pace the length of the room. He walked past the large double window and down into a small section of old and worn carpeting. He then paced round two large pillars.
“Christ… you two! You’ve got nothing to worry about.” He snapped.
McKintyre retired to his quarters, Myers was on graveyard duty. This duty entails the person to stay on guard by the communications terminal during the universal night hours. In space after all time is always in flux so after deep space travel was possible a new time scale was devised thus for every parsec beyond the Strogg system a certain amount of hours were appended. Dawson, McKinley and Browning had agreed to stay on the Phobos base during the figurative night time though it made no real difference apart from the natural fatigue that the party were now experiencing.
McKintyre drifted off into sleep with his book in his hand unaware that Myers was also heedlessly falling asleep at the terminal.
The party on the surface had arranged that they would start the Scavenge in the morning, McKinley and Browning both felt that at least one of them should stay on guard during the night.
Dawson smirked though hiding his anxiety. But Browning insisted so Dawson back downed. If he wants to stay awake all night hunting for spooks it’s up to him, thought Dawson as he unravelled his mattress, McKinley did the very same.
An hour passed and boredom was getting the better of the big cook. Browning had already eaten his rations and now decided to venture down one of the corridors. In view there were two, one to the left of him that led to an elevated observation deck. Nothing but an empty weapons locker and a busted computer terminal. But at his feet were two remains, both skeletal indicating that they had been there a very long time. Judging from the bones they appeared to be human. One of them was clutching a shotgun; Browning smirked as he picked up the ancient weapon. The remains didn’t shock him at all as he already knew what had happened here but none the less it still made him anxious. He strode down the other corridor that lay north of the entrance door. The corridor ended with a large industrial door and the opening mechanism had burnt out long before. Instead he crouched through an open maintenance hatch and into a large room it appeared to be a briefing room for new personnel. There were several security link ups and connected monitors, a figure stalked past one of the cameras but Browning had just missed it. Underneath each monitor clearly labelled were the names of other departments; “Toxin Refinery”, “Command Control”, “Central Processing” the list continued though most were not in operation. One of the working monitors caught his eye it was of another landing pad. A ship occupied the space; a new vessel commissioned just the year before, it was a UAC research ship. Browning headed directly for Dawson and McKinley. UAC forces were on the Phobos base.

Chapter Three.

The terminal barely functioned but Browning gave it a try anyway. He wanted to know whether or not the UAC were there or not and if they were then they were in for a whole lot of trouble. The UAC craft would literally run rings round their Dreadnought class vessel making escape near impossible. If only he could get the internal sensors online maybe he could find out how many of them there were.
He slammed the keyboard, just like everything in the facility was either broken or running on reserve power.
Diving through the maintenance hatch and into the room residing Dawson and McKinley, Browning warningly woke them up.
“Hey, Christ what the bloody hell are you playing at?” Exclaimed Dawson.
McKinley was beginning to stir just as Browning was explaining himself. “The UAC might possibly be here… there’s a craft out on one of the landing pads.”
This immediately shook Dawson out of his slumber, “How do you know?”
“What’s happening?” Said McKinley, drowsily.
The two newly woken Scavengers followed Browning’s lead into the adjoining room where the monitor clearly showed the UAC craft. Dawson recognised that this ships variant was only instated last year and he immediately knew the implications. He strapped on his helmet and took lead towards the shuttle.
“We leave… forget this Scavenge run. That ship wouldn’t even have to bother chasing us because whatever damned escape we try it will only be futile. They can search us all they want but he haven’t taken anything yet and how are they to know if we’re Scavengers?”
Browning and McKinley nodded in recognition and followed Dawson’s lead but as they reached the entrance door an unfamiliar snarl echoed from the ceiling. The troupe looked up just as a globule of viscous saliva dropped onto McKinley’s helmet visor. She screamed and jumped back as the lanky and muscular spiked demon leapt from the ceiling and onto a nearby wall. Dawson traced it’s flight and let loose a barrage of super heated Plasma energy at the creature. McKinley though shocked attempted a reopening of the entrance door but she was maladjusted by a flaming ball of fire directed from the north corridor, the ball slammed into the door mere inches from the shaken female. The first Imp leapt at Browning bringing him down to the floor and in an outcry slashed at his face, Browning yelled in agony as the Imp hacked large lacerations at his face though he mainly slashed at the helmets durable textile, the Imp had penetrated the visor. Dawson steadied himself as he fired a continuos battery at a group of half a dozen other hell spawn that were emerging from the maintenance hatch near the north corridor door. He clipped two or three and hindered the emergence of at least a further six Imps as their entrance was blocked. McKinley pulled out her pistol and pot aimed at the beast that was attacking Browning. She fired three then four shots before the creature succumbed to the wounds.
Dawson on the other hand took down the remaining three Imps and was miraculously able to close the maintenance hatch and locked it before darting back to the first commotion. Browning was barely conscious, he had taken a severe throttling and it is hadn’t been for his helmet he may have been dead.
“Get that door open!” Snapped Dawson as he clutched at Browning’s body lying motionless on the floor.
He then took note at the outside as a whole host of hell spawn made up of mainly Imps and large gorilla sized pink monstrosities began clambering at the two large double windows.
Exhausted Dawson explained, “They can’t breach that window… its damn bullet proof!” But he was seemingly proved right at the horned pink creatures began lunging at the glass in vain attempt to rapture the thick glass. Dawson gazed over to the maintenance hatch that had now stopped pounding.
“How about those UAC guys?” He cried quickly.
Breathing heavily due to fear McKinley responded. “Huh? What about them? I wish they’d stop!” She cried directing to the tormenting demon outside. The pounding on the windows resembled deep bellowing shell explosions. McKinley reached over to the nearby console and endeavoured to bring the blast shield down, after a few attempts a layered sheet of industrial thick steel built downwards from the top of the windows blocking the view of the hideous beasts. The pounding now slightly muffled still continued.
“That’ll hold them for now but we have to get out of this room and if there are UAC forces here then I’d rather take my chances with them!” He said assertively.
“But what about him,” McKinley pointed at the incapacitated body of Browning. “We just can’t leave him here?”
The pair dragged Browning into the room containing all the security read outs, a corridor ran parallel on the opposite side of the room though the end of the corridor was obstructed by debris there was a large gaping hole in the side. The nearby snarls and growls of the demons could easily be heard and if they didn’t want to direct any attention to themselves they would have to be very quiet.
Dawson slowly and quietly wrenched a side panel revealing a ventilation shaft junction where condensation formed water droplets that rained onto Dawson, McKinley and the unconscious Browning. McKinley then in turn replaced the ventilation cover. They crept for what seemed like miles of wall cavity until they reached what appeared to be a large mess room in total disarray. The place hadn’t been used for a very long time and it showed. Dawson could almost hear the metallic clutter of knives and forks colliding with plates and the happy chatter of employees, the galaxy it seemed had never felt the same since. Humanity had been broken apart due to war. Humans had colonised Stroggos; humans were failing miserably to rebuild Earth and who knows how many space-bound human-based civilisations there were.
McKinley cleared a space on one of the tables and the two Scavengers propped Browning onto it. He was slowly regaining consciousness albeit in agony.
“He’s coming over.” Stated McKinley as Dawson sealed up their entrance. He clambered over to the table where Browning and McKinley were.
“Can you hear me?” Asked Dawson.
Almost incoherently Browning answered. “What… happened?” The sentence was elongated through concussion.
“We were attacked… demons attacked us, Browning.” Dawson said guiltily.
“And you said it was safe!” Snapped McKinley as she paced the room.
Dawson sighed, “It wasn’t my fault… we haven’t got time for this. Now listen to me, I’ve got a plan.”
McKinley calmed down as she listened to Dawson’s proposal.
Dawson sat down on the opposite table, “In Browning’s condition we won’t get past those things out there…” McKinley cut in aggressively.
“We just can’t leave him here!” But Dawson just closed his eyes in deep thought and exhaled.
“Shut up!” He shouted, which she promptly did. “Listen! I go out… I’ll get to the shuttle by myself if anyone can do it I can. You tend to Browning while I’ll get back to the ship then Myers, McKintyre and myself will rescue the two of you.” He sighed as he plugged another energy cartridge into the base of his Plasma Rifle.

Chapter Four: Dawson.

Dawson, with Plasma Rifle slung under arm, crept through the bewildering ventilation. He could smell the foreboding gore. His eyes lit up with malice as he thought back to the previous attack. The adrenaline rush was like nothing he had ever experienced in the simulators. Every round he pumped out meant a possible instant death sentence to whoever was unlucky to be on the receiving end.
If some damned convict could have done this then I could, thought Dawson in deep bellowing sneer.
Beads of sweat drove slowly down his face in almost mechanic rhythm, he could hear his own heartbeat and he could hear the distant growls of the foe, inter-dimensional demons from hell with no remorse and attitude to boot.
He had read in textbooks about those demons, never thought he’d have to face them. The tall brown ones came down relatively easy enough but those pink bastards were another thing. Dawson mentally thumbed around with the names of the creatures. Homo-infernous-deamonicus or Imp but the names of the pink ones weren’t familiar, damn his memory.
He stealthily entered the previous room, the one with the security equipment; he could hear some commotion from the Hanger entrance. He peered through the open maintenance hatch and saw just over half a dozen Kleggs squaring off with small bulky biped dog-sized demons; their faces were near featureless except for a monstrous jawed mouth. The Kleggs were sending electric charges from their component assembly. The Kleggs appeared to be winning; Dawson bypassed the small confrontation steadily attempted to open the entrance door. The previous attack involved a demonic fireball being slung at the heavy-duty door. This, it seemed, damaged whatever components were still operable, instead he had to lever the door about an inch and prey the rest into the door alcove in the side of the wall.
Dawson stole a peek of the outside, not so many demons as before but at least he knew where they were coming from. A small cargo entrance tunnel on the far side of the landing pad, this obviously led to where the debris had cut him off at the room with the security up links.
The shuttle was in clear view and intact, several hundred yards away.
But blocking him was a mass of all teeth and no fear, demons and Imps. They all appeared to be on guard, this struck Dawson as kind of odd as these creatures are like predators, they hunt in packs but the records state that they scarcely took order directly. The Icon of Sin had been taken out of commission long ago so who could have been controlling them, the commotion of Kleggs verses demon dogs were coming to a conclusion, Dawson did his best to ignore, as he could have been sure he heard a voice. The demon dogs were withdrawing leaving only a small handful of Kleggs left.
Since the noise died down Dawson had no trouble listening and what he heard struck him as even more peculiar that just an enclave of demons taking strategic tactics. There was a voice, a grizzled accent speaking Enochian, other than Latin, Enochian is a simple route dialect, and favoured by early Pagans the language was dubbed; words of the devil. Dawson had done his history and he knew exactly what he was hearing, though he had trouble comprehending the ancient language he knew that the bastards had became organised.
Dawson watched from his concealed area as at least a dozen demons darted over to the hole and into the facility, they had their orders and he was sure that they were looking for either him or Browning and McKinley. He didn’t have much time.
The remaining demons scattered, leaving the voice behind. Dawson moved closer for a better look at who the voice belonged to. What he saw was a monster of a creature, over seven feet tall and with the build of a small automobile, though he was bloated with muscle and fat he looked hideously powerful he resembled a large grey Imp. Dawson had read about these beasts, they had an amazing intellect and now it was commanding the demon forces.
“I know you’re there.” Blasted the Bull Imp.
Dawson heartbeat became erratic and his sweat began to pour.
“I’ve known you’ve there some time… pity you do not speak our native tongue as you would have heard our entire plan… maybe if you had heard. You would have known how to respond but instead you’re in hiding. Tell me, do you plan to kill me?” The voice spoke with malice intent. It sent shivers down Dawson’s spine; he clutched his Plasma Rifle tighter.

Chapter Five: Dawson.

Dawson raised his arms and walked out onto the landing pad, he could see the sneer on the Bull Imp’s face, his small stubby nose, pointy ears and an array of random horns and bone extremities protruded from the monsters face.
“Ah,” the Bull Imp sighed in recognition, “I see, you’ve chosen to give up… I’m sure you all ready know the fate of your two friends…”
Dawson abruptly cut in; “Shut up… you fucking pile of hell piss, now you listen to me. I couldn’t give a Strogg arse whether or not you have some straightforward little plan. I know my plan… call it a mantra and my mantra is to kill you and save my friends. You want wrath, I’ll give you wrath!”
The Bull Imp’s eyes widened by shock then he leapt out of the firing range of Dawson’s Plasma Rifle.
Dawson gave out a mighty war cry as he fed ball after ball of super heated energy into the Martian scenery, the Bull Imp trying desperately to escape came to a sudden halt and slumped onto the ground. Dawson’s weapon’s battery, exhausted, let out an Out of Ammo signal, a continuos siren.
The Bull Imp though shaken lay sprawled on the floor, he had taken a shot to the arm, flesh sizzled as the monster lifted himself up with his good arm, he watched in agonising horror as his bad arm dripped and slumped onto the floor in a disembodied mess.
“My arm! My arm! You…” Shouted the creature in bitter agony.
Dawson strolled up the hell spawn and spat at him. “Yeah, you ready to listen now! I’ve got a plan… now unless you want me to kill you here and now you will do exactly what I say!” Dawson forcefully took charge.
The one armed monster kicked himself against the nearest wall while cradling the remaining stump of his left arm. Though suddenly he let out a scowling laugh. “You Terrans are all the same and besides, you’ll like my plan. You’re part of it.”
Dawson just ignored him, “Shut up!” he shouted as he slammed the red-hot barrel of his Plasma Rifle into the right side of the Bull Imp’s face, the barrel began burning at the naked flesh.
Dawson removed his sidearm pistol and whipped the creature round the other side of his face as a distraction for rearming his Plasma Rifle, he plugged in another cartridge and again forced the hot barrel into the side of the Bull Imp’s face.
“You’re a resilient mother fucker ain’t you!” Spat Dawson as he holstered his pistol, “Tell you what, you want to listen to my demands or am I going to have to blow your other arm off.”
The threat did nothing to deter the creature from slinging more verbal abuse. “Listen to an Earth bred piece of shit like you… never!”
“Wrong answer!” Scowled Dawson as he dragged the barrel down the side of the Bull Imp’s face as he directed it at the top of the right shoulder blade. He gripped the trigger and pushed forcefully, a mighty explosion of blood and flesh erupted throwing Dawson several feet and slinging the crippled hell spawn across the wall.
The monster though still alive continued to laugh albeit painfully. Dawson confusingly took a quick look around but it was too late as a flaming ball slammed into his side causing him to be thrown across the landing pad. He struggled to get up but vomited blood, he watched as half a dozen Imps sauntered around the lone Scavenger. Two more Imp’s helped prop the no armed Bull Imp, “Whether you like it or not, you will be part of my plan.” The hell spawn vengefully spat at the near unconscious Dawson.

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