The GFS Tyr screamed through the void of space, engines flaring with plasma, propelling the ship forwards at speeds that would have been insane within an atmosphere but were all but possible in the airless vaccum. Laser-directed plasma bolts lanced out from the troopship’s numerous turrets, cutting angry red trails through the blackness as the sleek vessel chased the blocky Space Pirate freighter just a hundred meters ahead of it. The poorly-defended freighter’s shields flared as the plasma bolts lashed furiously across them, the generators inside the vessel stuttering and whining with the massive strain that was being placed upon them as engineers tried in vain to soothe the failing machinery. The few turrets it had operational returned fire rather pathetically, the shots either flying wildly out into empty space or bouncing harmlessly off the electromagnetic shield that stubbornly protected the Tyr.
“We were on a routine reconnasaince mission when we spotted a Space Pirate freighter near Aether… we gave chase immediately.”
The troopship returned fire on the freighter, plasma fire lancing out in yet another volley to rake across the freighter’s hull in the absence of the overloaded and failed shields. One of the secondary engines flared and died in a magnificent plume of flames, sending the freighter into a slight roll that was quickly - but barely - corrected. Inside the freighter there was chaos - Space Pirate technitians sprawled dead on the ground, their carapaces cracked wide open by falling debris and shrapnel or others incinerated under the explosions of the overloaded equipment. Commanders barked orders, trying and failing to maintain control over the situation as their crippled vessel fell apart around them - even the small command crew itself was panicking.
Under the Tyr’s barrage they should have been long dead, but one observing the battle with a close eye would tell that the nimble troopship was attempting to disable the already crippled Space Pirate freighter rather than destroy it - carefully calculated bursts of weapon fire targetted only what they needed to, skimming off nothing but the turrets, the field projectors, the engines. Even as the two battling ships screamed into Aether’s gravity well another engine exploded in a shower of debris that spewed out of the back - this time one of the primrary ones. The Tyr’s weapon fire abruptly ceased as the freighter went into a spin from which it would never recover, venting flames from multiple points of the hull as the mortally wounded freighter tumbled into the grip of Aether’s gravity, the Tyr following closely. The battle was over - the freighter was disabled, likely never to take wing again.
“The freighter was disabled and started to plunge into the atmosphere.”
“Sir, that’s it.” The pilot of the Tyr reported calmly in his seat at the front of the armored cockpit of the vessel. “That freighter is never flying again.”
“They’re tumbling into the gravity well…” Captain A. Exeter of Bravo squad of the Galatic Federation army, Third Company, muttered to himself.
“Yes, sir… I don’t know if they’ll survive reentry.”
“Get us close - follow them down. I want you to salvage them before they hit the atmosphere if possible, but I’ll be content if you can just get us down there.”
“We followed them.”
The freighter continued it’s unstoppable plunge into the gravity well of Aether, fire starting to build up around the prow of the ship as it tumbled into the outer reaches of the atmophere. The Tyr followed close by, though with it’s nose straight and proud rather than erratically rolling through the flames. Within seconds they had decended into the toxic-purple, strangely shifting atmosphere of the planet, as the Tyr followed the plunging craft through it’s erratic dive, pushing past the purple clouds with ease. Lightning flashed, electricity forking from the strange clouds to the ground that was far below, out of sight in the strangely poisoned place. From the cockpit of the Tyr the plunging Space Pirate freighter dissapeared from view in the toxic fog as lightning flashed downwards, straight towards the silver and grey roof of the main cabin.
“Our ship was hit by lightning during the… de…cent, and we lost one of the primrary engines. We limped to the ground and… made an emergency landing.”
The Tyr’s smoking, sleek form, tainted by soot from where the dirty atmosphere had depositied some of it’s limitless load of grime, coupled with the direct lightning hit it has suffered, limped slowly downwards, the pilot struggling to maintain control with only one engine and most of the anti-gravs offline. The wings retracted and rotated, pointing upwards, revealing the long gash on the underside of the once-polished surface. The vessel had a large hole that the lightning had punched in their hull as if it were paper, causing a trooper to be sucked out into the atmosphere and left to plummet to his death and another to be killed by deadly fragments from the breach.
The troopship wobbled slightly, it’s engines coughing and sputtering, and threatened to capsize. The pilot fought against the roll, just managing to keep the wobbling, sick, once-proud vessel upright for the last few feet of the decent. Finally the landing struts touched down, and the pilot slapped off the engines with a sigh of releif. The engine that was still operational spluttered and died quietly. Captain Exeter, who had been sitting stoically behind the pilot all this time in the shielded cockpit, watching it all unfold with the calmness of a veteran, stood up abruplty and tapped the control that opened the sealed door that seperated the cockpit from the main hold. His squad, donned in their silvery-grey armor and sky-blue faceplates, were already on their feet and checking each other for wounds, others priming and checking their built in ion-projectile cannons. “Troopers.” He said quietly, and the activity ceased as the troopers looked to their commander.
“Here is what we’re going to do.”
"We split into two groups, one to guard and try to repair - or cannibalize - the… T-Tyr… and… the other to set up a communications base where we could hopefully send off a distress… gah… a… distress signal - the Tyr[i] wasn’t flying again.
"Everything was going fine…
“Until they came.”[/i]
GF MODEL ENGINEER CORPS WORKSYSTEM/TERMINAL 223.22
NETWORK DESIG. 1
ALL SYSTEMS NOMINAL
The troopers of the Tyr had worked efficiently, the seven or so remaining troopers in Force One, the group assigned to watch over and attend to the Tyr, having set up a makeshift camp, cannibalizing parts from their ship and using the spare parts in the storage bay to set up a makeshift computer terminal, sensors, and comms boosters along the perimeter. They had rationed and accounted for their ammunition, rations, and water - this planet didn’t have plentiful supplies of any of them, and they were probably here for a long stay. They had been faced with attacks from the indigenous “splinters” that were extraordinarily numerous on the planet, hives and hibernation sacs around every corner. They had already been here for a day, and things were tough, but nothing that a squad of Galactic Federation troopers couldn’t handle.
The Tyr had landed next to a cliff, it’s prow just five meters away from the rocky wall. The cliff itself was about eight meters high, jutting out from a still bigger cliff that towered above it, and the Tyr itself, unaccessible. Between the top of the first cliff and the face of the second, there was three meters of standing room - the perfect place for a sentry and a sniper, and Bravo squad had taken advantage of this opportunity. It was joked about among the men that whoever volunteered for the position was a coward, volunteering to stay up out of reach and shoot at enemies while the rest of them duelled in life-or-death close-range combat on the ground. Yet the safety was an illusion - behind the sentry’s back, behind the rocky wall of the second cliff, networks of interlinked tunnels lay, a lattice of splinter handiwork. Through the tunnels something crawled, gently scratching, clicking across rock, skittering through dirt.
[b]GF MODEL ENGINEER CORPS WORKSYSTEM/TERMINAL 223.22
SENSOR TRIGGER 14 ACTIVATED
SENSOR TRIGGER 16 ACTIVATED
SENSOR TRIGGER 3 ACTIVATED
UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS (alarm 202)
“We never stood a chance.”
The soft beeping of the console turned into a crescendo of blaring alarms and flashing lights as the computer squealed a warning to it’s masters, yellow alerts from a multitude of sources lighting up it’s screen. Instantly the Captain dashed over to the console and skidded to a halt, kicking up a small cloud of dust as the boot of his armor caught the dirt in the ground. His eyes instantly flashed over the panel.
Before he could so much as say a word a garangutan crash split the scene in two, a hail of rocks bursting out from a breach in the wall of the second cliff itself, the sentry poised on top of the first cliff’s top recoiling in shock and surprise from the explosion, his foot slipping and making him lose his balance, nearly falling off the ledge. The Captain glanced up at the disturbance, his built in ion-projectile weapon flying up to train itself on the breach in the rock. He looked up as he saw a private that was posted on top of the Tyr’s roof look down at the squad as his weapon’s report filled the space around them, joined within seconds by the sentry on the cliff’s gun, and then another, and then another, as the private yelled down in a panic:
"They’re closing in fast! I need backup! I NEED BACKUP!!"
The squad opened fire collectively on the breach in the cliff wall, bullets sheathed in damaging ion fields lancing out with a withering volley of fire at whatever was attacking them, the Captain struggling to make out what was beyond the breach. The sentry on the cliff was recoiling in horror even as he fired, and the Captain swore he could see the terrified expression behind his opaque visor. Dammit, what was happening up there?
Then, he saw them: pitch-black, quadrupedal, spiderlike, carapased monsters, two feet tall, as two of them launched themselves out of the breach in the cliff wall directly at the hapless sentry, a piercing, sonic cry reverberating from somewhere within the glittering black carapace. The sentry never stood a chance, a scythed leg whipping out from the creature’s body and slicing through the armor across the trooper’s chest, cutting into the soft flesh underneath. The trooper screamed with pain behind his visor, his weapon firing erratically into the stone by his feet, blood splashing out of the deep wound even as more of the creatures started to swarm over him.
Captain Exeter had observed all of this with a cold, calm glare, never breaking his aim or his fire at the strange black creatures, his troopers still keeping up a relentless barrage of fire at the amorphous mass of black that was now pouring out of the breach in the wall, skittering down the first cliff and towards the Tyr. This wasn’t working, the Captain saw immediately - the ionized shots were bouncing off the carapace, only precious few even barely penetrating. One of the creatures flipped down off the cliff and landed delicately, kicking up a small cloud of dust from it’s needle-thin legs. Now that one of the creatures was closer, he got a better look - it was a splinter, as far as he could tell, but a horribly mutated one, with a hardened carapace, faster motion, different coloration, and even more deadly legs, with scythed, possibly monomolecular tips.
Exeter backpedaled as he fired, sidestepping as the perversion of a splinter let out a piercing roar and flung itself forward towards Exeter, turning itself sideways so that it’s deadly legs were prepared to skewer whatever was in their path. A flurry of shots coughed out of the Captain’s weapon, ricocheting off the ground and the armor of the splinter as it turned to charge at him again. Around him the combat was joined, the members of his squad firing rapidly and efficiently at the mass of black swarming down over the cliff, with varying degrees of effectiveness. He saw out of the corner of his eye two carapaces crack open, the creatures that owned them shuddering and letting out a primal shreik before collapsing to the ground. A trooper lobbed a grenade into the middle of the group, sending the creatures flying in every direction yet only inflicting wounds to a few.
One of the creatures reared up on it’s legs before doing a flipping hop to the top of the disabled form of the Tyr. The young trooper who had been previously firing down at the mob that was approaching stepped backwards in shock. He swung his weapon around, but the creature let out a subsonic cry before violently spitting a glob of acid that sailed in an arc before landing with a wet squelch on the trooper’s visor. He stumbled in a panic as steam began to rise, the acid eating through the blue glass of the visor. His world erupted into pain as the acid dripped into his eyes, burning them, blinding him instantly as he let out a cry of shock and agony. The creature seized it’s opportunity, launching itself from the metal roof of the ship. One of the scythed tips plunged through the trooper’s heart, punching through the armor as if it were paper.
Even as another trooper fired desperately at the mass of splinters swarming towards the Tyr from the ground, he stepped backwards in panic and fear as the mob started to close around him. He let out a cry of horror as one leapt forward and wrapped it’s scythes around his weapon, severing the barrel instantly. In a blind panic, he reached blindly for his combat knife in it’s holster, managing to get it three inches out of it before two more of the splinters slammed into his torso, overbalancing him and knocking him onto the ground as his arms windmilled. He felt more on his legs, more on his abdomen, and the last thing he felt before the splinter on his chest reared it’s body and plunged a scythe bloodily through his cranium was the mob of splinters swarming over his lower body.
The Captain watched two of his men fall under the onslaught with grim determination. This fight was being lost. He’d already lost nearly half of the squad and there were far too many of the grotesteque, mutated splinters for them to fight. He whirled, dodging one of the black splinters as it flung itself towards him, plunging his unsheathed combat knife through the belly of another as it shreiked through the air towards him, killing it instantly even as he flung himself to the left to get himself out of the way of two globs of acid as they arced towards him.
Even as he did so, a trooper on the other side of the Tyr crumpled backwards against the landing strut of the troopship, his leg having been all but severed by a swipe at his feet as he desperately ran backwards, away from the living tide that was threatening to sweep him out to sea. He cried out in shock as his armor smacked against the armored strut, trying to bring his gun to bear on the mass of splinters sweeping in from everywhere in front of him. His eyes widened in shock as one of the creatures flung itself towards his torso, landing splayed on his chest before thrusting two scythed legs through the trooper’s chest, again punching through the armor as if it were nothing more than plastic. A fountain of blood gushed from around the monstrosity’s claws as the trooper screamed out even as the other splinters began to crawl over him and slice the trooper open hideously, all across his body. Just five feet behind him a mob of the splinters galloped up the open ramp into the Tyr’s exposed belly.
Now there were only two soldiers left - Captain Exeter and the first sergeant. The sergeant was just below the engine section as the black mass of splinters flooded around both sides of the Tyr, surrounding him from one side as he frantically stepped backwards. Like the Captain, he had his combat knife in his free hand, his built-in weapon firing rapidly at the mass of black that swarmed at him, spluttering fire relentlessly. Yet the rounds continued to barely penetrate and the creatures showed no pain and no hesitation - still they swarmed. The sergeant had used all of his grenades and was rapidly running out of ammunition, as his visor counter told him. A shreik took his attention and he looked to the right in a panic to see a black splinter sailing through the air towards him. He tried to throw himself to the side, but the splinter collided violently with the trooper’s helmet. His visor shattered under the impact, his eyes thankfully closed in reflex otherwise he would have been blinded. He yelled out as he felt a firey pain slash itself across his chest as the splinter that had collided with him dragged one of it’s hind legs across his torso, sawing through the armor with ease like they had done with so many others. The trooper collapsed to the ground, still yelling in pain as he tried vainly to bring his weapon to bear on something as it coughed into the sky. A sudden explosion ripped through the cavern and splinters flew everywhere, and a carefully placed round struck the splinter on top of the sergeant full-on, knocking it away.
Exeter still fought, throwing himself out of the way as the mass of black splinters spat acid at him and yet more flung themselves bodily at his torso, trying to slice his chest cavity wide open, but he would have none of that. He had placed the round and thrown the grenade - he was trying to draw the attention to himself and away from the crumpled sergeant on the ground. It had worked - they seemed to have left him alone as he lay near-lifelessly in the dirt. His weapon still coughed, spitting round after round at the hopeless mass of creatures, his knife in his other hand, slicing at the creatures that got too close. He tried to throw himself backwards to avoid a splinter flinging itself at him, but the was too slow, and the creature connected with his hand, the razor-sharp tip grazing his wrist and cutting into his flesh slightly. It was only a glancing hit, but the knife in his hand was knocked away even as he tried to stab at the creature. He muttered a curse and dipped his hand down for his pistol, the laser gun clearing it’s holster and snapping off a red shot at the splinter that had knocked the Captain’s knife away.
Suddenly he felt his foot catch on something, and down he went, firing relentlessly with his two weapons even as he crashed to the dirt on his side. He tried to push himself up, but one of the splinters from the amorphous mass that was uncomfortibly close to him reared up on it’s legs and flung itself bodily at him, pinning him to the dirt with it’s legs. He screamed, his resolve and calm demeanor finally shattered as the mob of splinters swarmed over him, covering him and drowning him in a smothering black mass before the many scythed legs finally ended his suffering.
It was over - Bravo Squad had lost.
The Dark Splinters savaged the Tyr for ten long minutes on their deadly raid, before they finally skittered away, satiated, to their home at the top of the cliff, where they paraded back into the tunnels, leaving the carnaged, bloody scene behind them. Yet even as the last of the many mutated creatures retreated into it’s home, the sergeant moaned with pain as he staggered to his feet. Blood poured out of the gash on his chest, dripping down his ruined armor as he brokenly staggered over to the beeping console by the side of the ship. He reached out to steady himself before he weakly pawed the console’s screen. The console blipped affirmatively as an audio log started, and the sergeant crumpled to the ground, exhausted, sweat pouring down his face, in the corner that the console and the Tyr’s hull itself formed.
“I’m dying… now… they cut me wide open… there’s… blood everywhere. I know I’m not going to survive… If anyone hears this recording… know that we did our duty… and fought well.”
The audio log cut off with a soft blip, and Samus looked over at the crumpled form of the Federation trooper, slumped against the wall of the console. His open eye that she could see was staring up sightlessly at the sky, perhaps at her, perhaps at the console… perhaps at nothing at all. Slowly, she knelt by the corpse, and reached out to slide two fingers into the shattered visor. She gently slid his eyes closed. Perhaps now he could get some rest…
She sighed as she got to her feet and looked at the carnage surrounding her.
“What a waste…”
I submit this. Here’s the original topic.