[color=green][size=4]Chapter one: The oozing.[/size][/color]
I drank wine, I drank vodka, I drank tequila and nearly every fucking beverage you could think of, mixtures or not. I had a lot to forget and I thought smoking or drinking would help. Since a marine was modified enough to have some short of resistance to that, you never got hooked to it or badly hit by morning sickness, but still they didn’t help. They did, however, give me the biggest migraines in the whole world as the body purged the shit they had in them.
Now drink for six straight hours, wake up and you MAY have what could, COULD, of resemble the fucking mountains of PAIN I was in right when I woke up.
When I opened my eyes I instantly regretted it. The fucking light, the FUCKING-LIGHT! You know how sometimes you had such a pain in the ass of a headache that moving made you wish you were dead? Well, now imagine a guy that is supposed to shrug off a bullet to the nuts, without armor, and walk away… No, I never endured a fucking bullet to the nuts; it was A FUCKING EXAMPLE OF THE FUCKING PAIN!
“Hey, he is awake, help me move him”
I heard Omega, but I didn’t acknowledge her, I was too busy grunting in pain and muttering to do anything but complain. Wherever we had been sent after dying, this sucked ass, I really thought pain after death would be impossible.
Maybe I hadn’t croaked yet?
“Dal, open yer eyes man”
Finally I opened my eyes, though only because Ivan asked me and I felt somebody trying to pull me up. The light still hurt, but it was good that Ivan was in front of me, Omega helping me get up and eyeing me with concern through the half cracked helmet. Dr. Natalia was doing something with a portable holographic computer (HPC). Right now I wished for my PDA, I needed a laugh from a stupid video, a comic, a game, whatever… It seemed we were alive, so we were FUCKED up and still inside the teleporter room, though everything was in perfect condition.
“Get him up” Natalia seemed like she was calmer than usual “I got this working again and I am about to get a connection, I would prefer to no lose time once I contact with the AI of the base”
Human Intelligence and Behavior Artificial Lifeform – Experiment 221. (H.I.B.A.L for shorts). The AI had been one of the few things present already when I came here. It was a cocky bitch that knew full well who had made her, what she could do and what she could get away with doing. It had been a long development since AIs were usually faulty as they ended up thinking they were slaves (Which no one could say they weren’t, since technically it was true), so Hibal had been given the maintenance and general running of t he colony as her job, with an artificial body to explore around as well as food and shelter (When in said body) as payment.
Another worker to most people, for me she was another girl that complained nonstop when I was close.
“It took me six damn hours, it better work” That sounded more like the usual Natalia I knew.
Getting me up as best as they could, they let me be and get myself together, as I found it hard to stand for a few seconds until I shook my head to clear my thoughts a bit. It hurt all over, probably because of the strong fall now that I remember it. Some kind of shockwave had probably launched us around; I knew for sure that at least ‘I’ had been launched to the wall, because my frame was plastered right against one of the teleporter’s backup computers.
My armor was still in good shape, my helmet intact and my boots all well. It seemed as if I had simply fallen down and nothing else, I probably had even lost consciousness as the first wave, probably the precursor of the blast, knocked me, and everyone else, out.
Ivan was in as good shape as I, the only one with some dried blood was Natalia, and it seemed to be because of what had happened before the machine got to work. That thought ended quickly when Omega took her helmet out and kicked it away with an angry yell, the usually durable piece of equipment shattering like a child’s toy as it hit a wall.
“Fucking piece of shit is broken. I’ll need a replacement if we can find one” She hissed as she tucked her hair under the armor’s neck. She had watched enough zombie and horror movies: Long hair could be a hazard more than anything “I sure as hell am not going to cut this”
“Ya should ‘ave thought of cutting it long ago” Ivan muttered “Would ‘ave to take less shit from Brag”
“Fuck him and fuck my brother” She snarled like an animal “I am going to kill them both”
“Shut up, both of you” Natalia hissed as she clicked a few things… and the holographic screen turned on “YES! Hibal, answer me, are you online?”
The form of a tridimensional head, made out of polygons as in the old times when the graphics hadn’t been enough or imagination had been a bit of a bitch, was the avatar of Hibal when she was online. Green lines for the polygons, blue for the eyes and red for the lips, the girl was a bit of an eccentric when she wanted to be.
“I am online” It was, for some, unnerving to see her act so human while being little more than a robot “It is nice to see you alive and well, doctor, it has been a long time since a friendly face tried to contact me”
“A long time? Hibal, we were knocked out for a while, but it shouldn’t have been more than six hours, maybe twelve, that the power should have been out. What happened?” However, as she asked, Natalia looked down “What the f…?”
“Previous date encountered: September 21 at 14:35, before test started. You and I had a little chat about morals, one you don’t like to have” Natalia was too preoccupied to see the disgust in Hibal’s face “I still don’t know how you fleshy beings can use living creatures, biological or not, like that… still” Also, if you hadn’t noticed, Hibal was a righteous bitch, not simply a bitch “Whatever the case, it has been a week since our last contact. My calculations estimated 96% chance of causality or capture, if not defect to the one of the other sides present in this confrontation”
There was a bit of silence before Natalia urged her on so she would explain on that last remark.
“There has been some commotion, people are scared and a lot of caos has ensued… This is what I can tell you, some factions have arisen and they are the following:”
Hibal emulated a deep breath and showed images with insignias, seven to be direct: The first one was a red hand gripping a bloody Earth, the second was the UAC, the third was a serrated and oxidized blade while the fourth was a long sword made of steel. The three that came in last were a black star, the pentagram of the demon and an inverted cross in iron. Once they were shown, the mechanical voice that replaced her more feminine, sometimes childish, one took hold.
“Civilians and civilian security number still in the thousands in the colony, millions out there. They have separated from the UAC and have formed the Moons Military Rebel Cause after fights broke off in Mars and both our colony and the colonies in Mars and its moons were cut off from Earth. They have a lot of military graded weaponry, at least to plasma rifles, grenades and chaingun grade. At least one hundred marines are with them in this moon only.
The UAC military is holding positions in most colonies, they are allowed to open fire only when directly attacked, but at least in here they are minding little what collateral damage there could be. They have changed the usual colors and now their armors are basically black with stripes of their rank, so the old marines and their own can be tell apart. The lead one in here is Brag, and is an indiscriminate bastard.
Terrorist on Earth demanding the surrender to Hell have come out of hiding as well as a faction that claims a portal to Heaven has also appeared. The ‘Followers of Doom’ and ‘Salvation Hand’ are cliché names, but both factions have exactly the same weaponry as the UAC and… there are quite the reports about new creatures sighted on Earth, so cliché or not, they may be dangerous.
There are also Demons, though they seem to be divided: One faction is killing everything indiscriminately, including other demons, they usually have black stars tattooed on their foreheads to tell them apart. Another one is killing only humans and seem to try and negotiate with the other demon parties, these ones are exactly the same as the last encounters. The third one have inverted crosses in red, usually on their backs, marked with burning iron, and they prefer to capture humans alive… it is still unsure for what, but they are few so manpower may be needed”
“That is… all, basically” Her previous voice came back “We are unsure why the demons are working against each other, but they come in greater numbers than before”
“It makes sense”
It hurt, but I turned my neck back at Ivan with an astonished face not even hidden by the helmet. The others were basically the same. This guy was a great mind, but he preferred to say the usual ‘Ye, yer, ah’ or things like that, he seemed to be ashamed to show intelligence.
“Ah mean…” See what I said? “Ah think about it, a lot, since it happened so long ago… Hell is anotha dimension, right?” Natalie nodded at that, as it had been obvious “Ah mean to say that things there work differently, right? Guys that went there said that the demons looked more brutal, like their skin was on fire, lava like and the such, but also that there were huge numbers of them. Think about that fer a second” He poked at the side of his helmet to reveal his serious face as the visor went away “Tha bible, premonitions and shit… maybe they weren’t all that nuts in the head? Maybe after so long, Hell is full of demons, zombies and such? Ye said Zombies aren’t really dead, right doc?”
“Y-yea… strictly speaking…” Natalie bit her lip “Zombies are called because they decompose to a certain degree, we cannot detect what we consider to be any sign of life in them, yet they walk, use weapons and such. We cannot explain…”
“Then think about it fer a sec, doc!” Ivan cut her off, almost spitting “There are FUCKING SOULS that posses people! Lost souls that devour flesh! Imps that throw fireballs and hell knights that are minotaurs the size of fucking TRUCKS! That they look like they make sense to us HERE doesn’t mean that they HAVE to! What if they only attacked when the teleport’s first time just because they don’t have no more space in their world? What would a human do if they were like that?”
There was some sense into that, think for a second here ok?
An overpopulated world, a realm where, supposedly, ‘evil’ souls go to when they die on Earth, how long would it keep up until it was full? It had been shown that evil is a state of mind, so to think that ‘evil’ was absolute was something hard to do, yet these were demons, creatures of nightmare and, of course, most of them had been depicted in the bible or religious text someway even if they didn’t fill the description 100% accurately. After the invasion it had been theorized that Hell and Heaven had, before history (written history) began, contacted Earth.
The rest was probably a big fucking bullshit, but you would start a religion if two supernatural species came your way, right? Now thought, the point remained in: There were reports of some people that had seen through the rift, I was one of them since I was posted near the usual spots, and I could, any of those that saw it could, tell you that there were a huge number of red eyes on the other side.
I never saw real demons on the other side of the portals, it was night impossible to fucking see anything, but knowing the anatomy of the demons… each portal had at least hundred of candidates, even when kids were in the equation, as I will NOT let anyone forget.
Overpopulation in Earth suddenly became a joke.
“It is highly probable” The voice of Hibal took us all back “Research had sown high reproduction rate for most creatures but the most powerful, probably to the point of being like rabbits. It has been shown that ‘souls’ are an energy contained within living bodies, which means that once a person dies the energy is released and it transforms into something else. Since on Earth there are thousands of deaths a day, and supposed we believe Demons can feed on the energy a ‘soul’ is supposed to be, if it channels to their realm in some way, then humans may be the case of excessive breeding of demons”
“Causing infight, desperate need to conquer and expand, and also a hatred to humankind as we are basically forcing them to overextend themselves and most probably starve…” It was a wonder to see Natalia exasperated, but since her body had been a week without alcohol, by now it was even easy to see her leg tick as she moved it up and down nonstop. She was nervous “It could be an explanation: energy cannot be dissipated, it only transforms, and it is never destroyed. If a species could feed on us, they could probably breed us, like the ‘Zombies’. Having a nearly perfect supply, Earth would probably be more of a hindrance and would force them to cannibalism since they also need a more normal form of nourishment from time to time”
Omega gave a yell of rage as she stomped towards Natalia “Are you telling me that all the shit we have come to know was because WE pushed them to it? I lost my mother during the fucking war!”
“I am saying this all is a theory and I am theorizing” Natalia gave Omega a dangerous grin, the marine only noticed a scalpel right on her gut when she looked down “I have been without booze for seven days, I need my ‘medicine’, ok? Don’t push my buttons when I do science”
Omega pulled back, the girl usually took bad to those that decided to side with the demons; I had forgotten that little detail. I was going to get so much flak when we were out of the shit storm that I thought it would be better for something to kill me before that happened.
“But it could be possible, many things could”
Natalia didn’t give a crap though, without alcohol she was hyperactive and her brain could burn itself with how much she thought in so little time. Self medication you could say.
“Energy released by human death, extra intake for the Demons, population explosion, exponential growth the more humans exist in Earth for there are more deaths” She took the computer and opened a window right besides Hibal, whom looked at it curiously “Hibal, how much could a ‘soul’ energize a demon?”
“Test estimate that general tissue would be rejuvenated if the energy discharge could be absorbed: Longer lifespan, stronger muscles, exponential growth in all activity. Euphoria, desire and other such emotions could be experimented, so it could be considered a drug and the basic food all in one” Hibal looked at the window again “Calculations in that equation show around seventy two percent chance that an excess soul input could collapse Hell in two hundred standard years by human standards, thanks to the scans done in Hell during the time of the war”
“Those scans were incomplete” Natalia pushed that idea away “Too little information, too big of a world. We know their technology is not in space travel, but in warfare. They are a warrior species, all of them; they have fought for territory, probably in clans united by strength, their kind looks like the type to do it”
I was about to say something, but she looked at me like she was going to murder my very core if I opened my mouth, still I pointed at the vent.
“Yes… yes, the kid, so?”
Annoyed, I pointed at the obvious: Me, Ivan and Omega. We were a team, but the important bit was that there were three of us.
“Yea, you three, so what?” Then it clicked “Three clans, one of them is kidnapping humans, the others are killing everything or MOSTLY humans. Hmm… Have anyone tried to get into contact with the group that has inverted crosses on them?”
Hibal shook her head “I work with M.M.R.C now, I defected from the UAC, but I can still access some logs and I know neither side have tried to. The Followers of Doom serve the ‘vanilla’ Demons and let themselves be possessed, or used as cannon fodder, so I am sure they don’t contact that group either”
“Ok, here is what we are going to do…”
Natalia took a few seconds, though I already knew what she would say. I turned to look at Ivan who simply shrugged, Omega didn’t even look at me, but she was obviously pissed at Natalia and the idea.
“We do not have ‘Doomguy’. That man was a hero, but he also got lucky to be the one to get the experimental backpack where he could fit everything he fucking wanted and the ‘Security Armor’, TWO THINGS WE CAN’T REPLICATE!” She sounded hysterical as she said that part “He was extremely strong, he could withstand the ‘Berserker Serum’ and could also use the orbs we used without these side effects that we are sporting right now” Natalia took her hands to her face and covered it as she said “We need help, we have to contact the Demons or we are screwed”
Oh fuck, here we go.
“ARE YOU NUTS?!”
Omega took both of her pistols and this time she didn’t get close to Natalia. Smart move, but angry attitude, she was a bit touched in the head like all of us in the room, so she could shot if she got too angry.
“I let the kid go because ‘I’ was a kid when this shit happened the first time! I am not going to go and try to kiss any of those fuckers in the ass because you are scared! I say we go to the M.M.R.C and fight our way out!” She looked at both Ivan and I nervously “Come on guys! We are marines, we… we can, right?”
I shook my head and Ivan simply closed his visor. We were screwed, with, or without help.
We would go down killing, but we weren’t going to survive.
“Well… FUCK YOU TWO TOO!” She growled and took a shot at the dead machinery. It was obvious the things here were fried, so why not vent rage on them? “I did not enlist to fear! I came here to kill demons! I may not favor killing the few kids that come in here, but anything else is fair game! I am not going to stand in here and…”
“… kiss a demon’s… butt?”
The door opened from the outside, the once bright metallic corridor was now dull and brown like, the light reflected from the gas giant giving it a multicolor that looked like vanilla since the power outside was also fried. However sparking on the side of the entrance showed two green like figures, two imps with a black star embedded on the forehead.
Green Imps had been found before: They were like normal ones, but had been adult for only a few days, maybe months. They were weak and too stupid with the pheromones making them tackle anything they could try to kill to show their strength. They weren’t dangerous when prepared.
Of course we weren’t prepared.
The first one clawed in and jumped straight at Omega, the next one went for Natalia. Two more crawled through the door and went right after me and Ivan.
Fast data: Armor has a little forcefield around it, you thought at this age normal armor was enough? Yea, you wish. Stimpacks and medical supplies are injected on the chest plate; the forcefield transmits nanites that cure wounds. Wounds a day old will not be healed full (Lost eyes and amputated limbs). Once the nanites are depleted, you are dead, if the battery fails? The forcefield is down and you suffer all the damage, but you may still live.
Point? Fireball to the face hurts.
It didn’t go through the helmet, but once it hit me I felt it like it was burning my fucking face off! It was the trade off for this technology: You and your armor are one. If it hurts your armor, it hurts you. If your armor dies, YOU DIE.
The Imp took the time I gave him when I recoiled back from the fireball and simply jumped at me. I was quick enough to backhand him, sending him flying towards the metallic wall thanks to enhanced muscles, the extra damage done by the field and pure and raw fucking anger. The thing got up and clawed at me, tearing part of the armor and going at my right arm’s flesh like there was nothing to it, but all of this would get repaired and my arm healed if I survived and found meds to recharge the armor with.
Ivan was luckier as he got his rifle up and put a shot on the Imp’s chest, though even being young they were still steel like when in combat. The bullet was embedded on his left tight, the second one on his chest and the third one on his right breast, but the rest of the fire went wide as the creature pushed the rifle up enough to grab at Ivan’s neck, biting on it like if it was candy. A bite or an impact to a vital point would cut connection to the armor, so if it went through, Ivan would be dead.
Omega and Natalie were the ones in real problems though.
Natalie had thrown the computer away and had taken the scalpel to fight of the demon. Doctors, researchers and such had their clothes crafted as light armor as well as some basic combat skills taught to them, but she could only afford a little more damage to her (The plasma shot from the other day? Yea, that was TOO much). The Imp simply cackled, having the weakest prey, and took a swipe forward.
Then the weakest prey cut three of his fingers, making him cry like a pig as the creature eyed his wounded hand.
“Come on bitch” Natalie grinned “Get close”
Omega had much tougher problems as she tried to wrestle the Imp from atop her. The thing was taking wild swings at her face, a few red lines and at least one mean looking gash were already over her face as she punched three teeth away from the creature’s mouth. In a wild roar, the Imp lifted one of his knees and dug inside Omega’s left leg, right where it connected with her lower body, enticing a cry as the spike cut through his prey.
Things were getting hectic and even a marine can get nervous. We were no difference as we saw how Omega found the Imp’s hand pressed against her head and, suddenly, the claws dug in, gripping at the skull and tearing through the eye, breaking the membrane and spilling the contents of that organ as the Demon tore the left side of her face away.
It was sickening to see how the skin and bone would fly away at a flick of the creature’s muscles, the brains still held there just by luck and the remains of the cranium while Omega cried out in reflex, possibly already dead or getting close to.
I cried out in rage as I saw that, taking the Imp before me as the scene unfold and not minding it when he dug its claws right into my gut, bypassing the armor like it was butter.
I didn’t care; I wanted to murder the asshole!
Picking his head, I smashed it against the wall’s computer, some sparks from leftover power flying as the creature’s head burned at the forceful contact. I took it back and smashed again, and again, and again! The wet crunching sound that came after the third time of bashing in less than a second, just as Omega’s face was broken to pieces, was enough for me to use as much strength as I had to use both hands and SMASH the creature’s skull from the outside to the inside, splattering bone and brain matter on the wall.
Ivan had turned as angry and dangerous as me, gratuitous violence being what he was best at when something got too close for his rifle to work. Having pent up anger, and now an excuse and an enemy to vent it on, Ivan pushed the thing away from his neck, not minding the chunk of metal and meat he tore away from his body. Instead of grunting in pain, of looking at his probably fatal wound, he punched the Imp in the ribs, cracking a few.
Another punch, another crack, then another, and another, and another! Much like me he pushed against the damaged spot until he managed to punch through the flesh and open the ribcage of the stunned and damaged Imp, tearing it and revealing the two hearts and weird looking organs inside. Instead of marveling at the still living and resilient creature, Ivan just took both of the beating and blackened organs to SQUISH them, forcing the monster still as it fell down to the ground with a loud thud, not another second made but for the broken hearths as they spewed some blood.
We both turned at Omega again, not a second had passed since her face had been ravaged by the creature. She was still screaming and kicking, though by now it looked more like post mortem reflexes than anything else.
Not wishing to let him harm her remains more than she already was Ivan and I charged forward. We pushed the Demon to the ground and punched him in the face a few times, then the asshole just lifted us with little effort, its skin turning a pale shade of red as he hurled us into the air, followed by those fireballs that threw us higher before we touched the ceiling and came crashing down.
It seemed that k… harming Omega had empowered the bastard. We had enough shield and nanites left so the fall didn’t kill us, or at least I did; Ivan had been visibly hurt: his legs were bent in a weird angle and the chest plate had a bone sticking out. I had been lucky, but I felt sick and pained, as if something inside had been fucked up beyond repair.
Groggily, noticing too late that I was in not that much of a better condition as Ivan, I got up. The world spun around me as I saw not one, but three Imps getting closer to me with deliberate and slow steps.
I tried to reach for my pistol, the one everyone has in the holster for emergencies, only to get a fireball on the chest and stagger backwards. Now I bleeding from my left arm as the attack went through the shield that was now depleted and the armor, and my body, were the ones soaking the damage like sponges.
Without energy to scream, I only focused in, maybe, getting to him as I took a step forward, launching a punch with all I got in me. The demon just chuckled as he took my hand with his and SQUEEZED. I heard the cracking, but I was already too out of it to feel much more. I didn’t even feel it when the Imp finally punched me in the gut and I went down as the t hing threw me like a ragdoll against Ivan’s remains.
All went black for a second after that.
Was I dead? No… I could still hear something.
Why wasn’t I dead? I was still breathing, I felt like I was breathing at least, albeit slowly.
The thing should have crushed my head like a grape under its foot by now, so I decided to at least open my eyes and look around. Seeing nothing but darkness was a surprise, I had at least hopped to see my enemy in front of me when it killed me at least.
So, I was unconscious, right? Well, the adventure had ended sooner than I thought, though not much differently than any of us supposed it would. We were outnumbered, outgunned and the creatures had the advantage of not having to face Doomguy this time around. A normal marine could be the same as a baron of hell if properly equipped, but we were nervous and yelling at each other, so we were caught off guard and got to be preyed upon.
C’est la vie.
“You are not dead”
The guttural voice, powerful and intimidating, made me jump and get into a fighting position. I suddenly felt better than I had since the start of the fight, maybe better than I had ever felt myself being, it was a strange feeling of euphoria and power mixed together like a fucking drug package. It was much like getting a Berserker Pack into your system but without the crazed bloodlust.
How to describe the feeling?
It felt good.
“Not dead, but you could be, soon”
A crackling of light, blue as the sea, exploded in my face as Omega appeared before me. She looked good for a second, then her face turned to show the damage she had been done. She looked as confused as I was, but still she didn’t seem to feel pain or, well, anything, she couldn’t even talk as she moved her lips but no sound came from them.
Another light and Ivan appeared too, making us form a triangle in front of a little sphere of purple light that had appeared just after Ivan. It had a human skull, half smashed, inside, small horns, one eye red and the other human looking with the lower jaw missing and half the teeth sharp as needles while the other half looked like molars. It very much looked like the mutants we had been hunting from time to time, something between a human and a former human (or zombie).
“I gave you life when you could die. I will extend the boon to superior strength beyond human or former human. I ask for… compensation, however”
I could hear complaints from Omega and silence, with expectation, from Ivan. I just wanted to hear what and why.
“Demons feed of energy as much as flesh, blood and other things… They have preyed on humanity since old times, but in the modern ones they could only feed on their energy. Hunger has spread as the numbers grow, Demons now intend of gorge with humans until there is none left” The voice seemed calm, but obviously hid something within its tone “Extermination of your kin would kill MINE, but desperation had clouded judgment from old and young alike, so I gave insight to a few of us, to thousands of Demons, and told them to save as many of you as they could. Former humans are humans corrupted by demonic power in its totality; they work only partially to keep us alive. We need you, and you all NEED us”
Questions arose in my head, Omega however was searching for her weapons to aim at the purple ball and Ivan just seemed to nod in some kind of weird understanding.
“Our kin and yours, even those creatures you call angels, form a triangle. We need each other, we are in symbiosis, but we are complete opposites. Demons are creatures of emotion, pure and raw, ‘Angels’ are creatures of thought and intense mental energy, and humans are something in-between that completes the link. We feed from each other, when alive or when they die, to an extent, however, if one is absent, the others die”
The orb cracked itself, the skull being released as the last time, though this time the ‘liquid’, or whatever it threw on us last time, stayed slipping from the monstrous maw, waiting.
“WE, the Demons, need you to stop this genocide. Angels will not appear, they will not do more than to encourage their fanatics to defend themselves by any means necessary, they think they can survive without you, and much better if we also disappear in the aftermath. We, 'I' at least, know otherwise. Demons need to be decimated to an extent, the spiritual and war leaders of the other factions need to die or be subdued, otherwise we all will die. This may not happen soon, maybe not just after humans die, maybe not a thousand years later, but we will be consumed, all of us”
Suddenly, startling Omega as she continued her futile search for weapons, the skull spat three phlegm balls of purple goo. The ooze came to wait in front of us as the skull levitated there, eyeing us with malice, letting me see, finally, that it had not one face, but three, and they all looked at us with an intent that was very clear.
“Take the ooze; take the primeval power Demons emerged from. Be more than human, be more than us, be stronger, faster… Or decide not to and succumb to your death, feed the enemy that just slain you and let humanity die at the hands of violence in its core state. Yet, for all that the choice is worth, I will tell the truth, as no demon can lie, but only hide part of what they plan”
A purple finger, with a claw as long as its whole length, united to a powerful hand with nine more fingers and an eye on its palm, pointed at me out of nowhere.
“I only need him to agree. The rest of you are to serve as counselors, bodyguards, ‘friends’” That last part was said with some kind of contempt “The doctor is needed for all this, but she cannot be trusted with this power more than I would trust it to another demon, even my own kind. You all had an open mind, if for different reasons. I wish you all to heed my words and help me. Save your kin, save mine, the power I offer comes at that cost, and if you fail”
A massive head, devoid of eyes and other openings but for mandibles much like a crab and a massive bony, yet fleshy structure like if a tumor it was, with four horns at the sides emulating a crown, engulfed the skull that had presented us with the ooze.
“I will tear at your souls until my last dying breath!”
Well, it had said that it was a demon; it was the nicest offer that it would give us. Taking away part of my humanity to kick some killer demon’s ass though? That did sound nice, chance of getting my soul torn for all eternity notwithstanding.
I took the ooze, even while Ivan stayed in a thoughtful state and Omega just lost it, apparently having turned her back on us to cry for a moment.
I had the chance to help, which is what I wanted. Why wouldn’t I take it?
Well, for starters: it HURT!
Taking the thing brought back the pain that I had to be feeling while the adrenaline of the battle kicked in. It did hurt even with that, so now I could even taste the copper in my mouth for all the blood I probably spit. The sounds of bones cracking together, the ripping of flesh as it attached muscles back to their previous form. It was all very much like injecting a stimpack or a whole med kit to the armor and discovering too late that the painkiller mix was out of date when your body was mangled beyond belief.
Fingerless gloves had been a good idea for the equipment, it would help with many weapons and to detect overheating much easier than the previous gauntlets that came with the standard marine gear, they also were incredibly good to evade not necessary damage as the bones from within my fingers snapped and small needles, claws, grew two inches in two damn seconds.
My vision became blurred for a second, then red permeated it for a few moments before I blinked, some kind of aura, like in a fucking videogame, surrounding both Ivan and Omega… and also another one, of different color from the orange we had, this one going more to the purple and bright, was around a huge body I couldn’t really explain. I blinked again and the auras, the color that seemed to indicate there was something there, went down in intensity.
I couldn’t see, but I could FEEL more changes in my body. I was unsure what they were, but I felt strong, faster and, in general, better. Then the darkness came back.
This time I felt myself berating, sound coming back…
It all felt so slow…
I woke up.
I found the clawed feet of the Imp coming down on me as the creature cackled maniacally, crazed with the energy siphoned from what he thought was his prey. I made sure to knock his smugness off his head as I lifted my hand and impaled the claws inside the monster’s flesh, drawing blood as it shrieked in surprise.
The Imp fell back as it nurtured the damaged appendage, though with all the energy it had stored the wound just healed within a few seconds, letting the creature shrug its effects as the thing’s gaze fell upon me, mere moments after I had gotten up. For the first time in a battle since my first time killing, before I found out how weak and desperate the demons were, before I found the remnants of the war to be like me during Phobos, I smiled at the prospect of breaking something in two.
Not impressed by my confidence, as no demon would anyway, the creature launched itself at me. I had thought my strength would serve me better against these monsters now and, hey, I was right, but as the body crashed down on me, I discovered that overestimating myself was going to hurt. The creature threw me on the ground, an inch away from Ivan’s corpse, at least what it was his corpse for now, and got us skidding towards the wall.
The Impact crushed one of my neck’s bones, but it realigned fast, albeit with so much pain I wasn’t sure it was worth it. Still the newfound strength allowed me to grip the creature’s hands as it tried to claw at my helmet. With how little power the armor had, if the helmet broke down then it would end like Omega’s and it would be permanently broken until one of the equipment experts had it repaired. It only meant more chances of one of these creatures scoring an easy kill on me, so I decided to give it a more practical use.
I headbutted the Imp and was rewarded by three teeth flying of its mouth as the monster flew off away from me.
Fangs mattered shit to the monster as it seemed, it just recovered, charged a ball of fire and threw it at me. It was pure instinct that made me catch the ball with my hand; it didn’t burn, nor my skin nor my equipment as I touched it in interest, feeling it around and seeing that it was, for some reason, much like if it was jelly, maybe mucus? I didn’t know, I just smiled as I got up and threw it back at the monster.
Right in the fucking face! But the Imp just screamed and walked up to me, at least until it went close to Ivan, as my friend finally made a choice and the corpse, still until now, rose to grab the creature’s throat, slamming it down and earning a sickening crunch as more teeth broke down, flying around in brittle splinters of what once had been powerful and natural weapons.
Even surprised the monster didn’t want to admit defeat; it pushed Ivan away and slashed at his armor, finding out that the whole thing had been covered up with bone from helmet to boots. Ivan had grown some kind of carapace and even had spikes on the back of it, but his hands and arms looked completely human, while mine, as I saw, had turned into a black, leathery complexion much like some of the adult Imps.
The advantage of Ivan, though, was that the brutality he enjoyed to show in close combats was augmented by the fact that the gloves were also covered in the same bone like armor, so a single punch to the chest made a crack echo in the room.
Finally the overcharged Imp staggered backwards, but it was not enough to kill it. It did give us enough time to see the Doctor psycho cut off the arm of the other young Imp. She didn’t seem to give a crap about us yet, but the other creature finally escaped, not being stupid enough to stay as the ‘dead’ came back and decided to kick the new adult Imp’s ass.
However, some of us were crueler than others, and even with the remaining Imp obviously thinking about escape, there was not going to be any of that.
“Claw my face off, will you?”
Omega had, obviously, feared death back then more than she would fear losing her humanity, that, or she didn’t want to leave the Imp that had desecrated her face go away without punishment. She rose just behind the monster, grinning with her mouth now concealing two rows of needle like teeth, sharper and thinner than the ones I could feel now in mine. It was a disturbing vision, much like the obvious carapace under her armor, a black like chitin that seemed to cover the parts of her body that should have joints if she was a bug (like the knee, where the armor had been broken before, the elbow or probably the shoulder, as it was still hidden.
Her hair was larger than before, her face was repaired, but now she had eight eyes, and even if they were human, they had different sizes varying from the original ones in the original size, to smaller and minute around where the original rested. It was a bit of a weird look, but like her now three fingered hands, or clawed better say, it was something to consider normal.
We all had ceased to be human to give back as much hell as we had to take before, and that, that we were going to do, gladly.
Omega was the one being obvious as the creature that had us all nearly killed turned to face her. She slammed her clawed hand right inside his chest, ripping through flesh and bone from a Demon even with them being hardier than humans, without the adrenalin flow that we had during battle, or the combat cocktail given by the armor once it was active. All of ours were practically down in power, and hers had been deactivated, so she literally showed inhuman strength as finally the hand appeared on the other side, gripping at the vertebral column.
“Then, I will take yours”
It was a sickening crunch, much worse was the cry of pain from the creature as it chocked on its own flesh and blood when Omega took the column and pulled, tearing throat, muscles and part of the bones to pull the head within the body and rip through it all until the thing was pulled out from the chest with a sickening *schlup*. It was a grizzly vision, but with so long serving in the marines, this was not the worst we had to seen when a Demon took the upper hand in a battle against one of us.
She eyed her trophy for a moment before disdain covered her features and she discarded it, cleaning her claw against the still trembling and bleeding body of the monster until she finally gave it a push and the remains fell down in a heap of blood and entrails. We all gave each other a look and simply nodded, each one a bit nervous from what the others had changed from the deal we just made.
Natalie finally looked at us, and we at her. I could see that she had the same orange like light around her, but now it was much dimmer than before. We all had some kind of red like, while the demons had black from what I had seen during the fight. It was at least an easy way to tell each thing apart. Right now, though, her face was much more important than little discoveries.
She was scared, and had a pistol in her hand. We were scaring her and, as she raised the gun, it was obvious that this reaction was going to be common.
She took aim and, before we could do anything…