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The answer was apparently no. No one had a breacher.

Being armed with the only suitable weapon, Derrick was forced to break down the door the old fashioned way. By hitting it with an axe. Over and over.

There was nothing good about this. The heat and steam rising up from the two floors below caused him to sweat bullets, people kept giving him 'hurry up' looks and he expected a monstrous arm to break through the door and pull him inside at any second. It was worse than carrying Jenny's nameless partner down all twelve flights of stairs.

Of course, this door was reinforced by weird alien glue, so it took awhile to break open. By Derricks count, well over a hundred blows before the door was weakened enough it could be kicked apart.

He, Beth and Blake entered together, each eyeing the shadows with practical paranoia. The inside was lightless and strange. Stacks of empty cans were piled everywhere, some partially dissolved in hard grey growths that looked like barnacles. Root like growths pierced the walls, some tiny and opaque, others large and full of slowly moving goo. Still other hung from the ceiling, dangling to the ground with curved grey needles on the end. He didn't even want to think about what those were for.

They moved slowly in the black room, the windows were hidden under a shiny grey coating like the shell of a clam. The group of Users was deathly silent as they inched forward, this was no longer a human place. They met no opposition and that worried Derrick. Their goal of destroying the Drone had to be clear now. Why wasn't the Vanguard attacking? Was the Drone not here?

“This is for sure a trap,” said Blake, just seconds before Derrick did. Everyone nodded.

“Check for holes in the floor or other Home Alone shit,” said Derrick as he eyed the carpet underfoot with suspicion. He turned his gaze to the unknown grey growths that covered the ceiling and floor.

“Try to avoid anything Legion made. It could easily be some kind of IED.” Jenny added.

Or something worse, like lethal radiation emitter, Derrick thought but kept to himself. 

Their dark skinned leader, Beth turned her gaze to the strange fluids that flowed everywhere, she grasped the mask hanging on her neck with her free hand and put it on.

“Masks on,” she said. “I'm betting we don't want breathe whatever this stuff is.

They walked through the main room of the apartment and glancing around the corner spied the bathroom door. It was as covered in grey glue as the entrance had been.

“Fuck,” said Derrick.

Blake glanced at the door and smiled grimly.

“Well, at least we know it's probably in there.”

“Unless this is a trap and the entire room is rigged to explode,” added Kate.

“They want us alive,” said Derrick as he carefully walked towards the reinforced washroom door. Beth gave him some kind of military hand code he interpreted as 'hurry the bloody fucking hell up'. He just ignored her and took his time, testing every step he took for pitfalls or wires buried under the carpet. “So probably no explosions. Too lethal. Expect the unexpected,” he advised sagely

Derrick rapped his knuckles against the door and gave it a couple kicks to make sure there wasn't a trap or hidden panel on it. It seemed solid. He started hacking at the hinges, trusting the others to watch his back. He was just finding his groove when a whisper interrupted him.

“Every time I enter one of these apartment washrooms I expect to hear voices calling me from the drains,” Blake added randomly. “You know? Like in the movie with the killer clown?”

...

...

Ughhh

“Thank you for that.” Derrick replied between axe swings. “Now I'm going to be picturing Grey Legion Clowns.”

Blake just smiled at him.

“I'm sure someone out there is regretting moving near a clown college,” mused Blake and causing Kate to snort.

“Stow the chatter,” hissed Beth. “And get that fucking door cleared.”

He took another few swings before he stopped.

He thought he'd...

Ting

He frowned and turned around.

“What is it?” Asked Kate.

Ting

“Do you hear that?” he whispered.

“No, what?” asked Beth while Blake readied himself.

“Could be nothing,” he said. “Some kind of metallic clicking noise from behind that wall. I think...”

What he was going to say was interrupted by the wall bursting open and a blast of liquid and pieces of metal washing over the group.

Derrick let out a scream as his flesh burned and tiny bits of metal dug into his shoulder. Luckily he didn't get any of the burning liquid in his eyes. His face was covered in it though and it smelled awful. So bad he he gagged, his throat closing in shock. That could just me his melting skin though.

Even mid scream, part of his brain knew how much danger he was in. He quickly ripped off his sweater and tried to wipe clean his face.

He heard yells and sounds of violence but at least a few of their group seemed to be fighting.

Rubbing his sweater into his eye lids was agony but he did it without flinching. A second later, when he opened his eyes they were still stung by whatever had hit him but he could see.

And what he saw wasn't pretty. He opened his eyes just in time to see a grey blur smack Beth's teammate and cause him to crumple like paper to the ground. He never reached the ground though, as clawed fingers dug into his flesh and sent him through the air to bowl over a surprised looking Kate.

Several gunshots rang out but didn't seem to do more than slow it a little. Even Beth's shotgun only rocked it back, which at least let Derrick get a good look at it.

It looked like a cross between Venom and a Storm Trooper. Grey organic looking plates covered a thin humanoid frame with elongated arms that were made to end in dagger like clawed fingers. The monstrosity had no visible eyes, but they were probably just hidden behind the creatures smooth armour.

It did have a mouth though, one filled with inhumanly large fangs.

Derrick shuddered. This was not a thing a human could hope to fight. Everything about it screamed killing machine. Just as the Legion Vanguard had recovered from Beth's shotgun blast, Blake rose to one knee and let a small egg shaped object fly. His aim was good, it flew right to where the Vanguard had been trying to move. Unfortunately, the monster had reflexes like a cat. It dropped to all fours and changing direction with an inhuman movement, dodged it.

Thankfully, monkey see, monkey do was strong with Derrick. His own tangler flew out only seconds after Blake's.

It was only partially successful. When the object was just two feet away, it exploded into hundreds of thin ribbons that coiled around anything it could latch onto.

They wrapped around the right shoulder and chest of the Vanguard, pinning its arm to its side. A dozen other strands also wrapped around the door frame behind the creature, surprisingly jolting the creature backwards and shaking the wall.

Watching the creature scramble, Derrick understood what stopped it. It was strong, but it wasn't heavy. It couldn't tear itself free without leverage.

It quickly proved that its claws could tear the tangler ribbons. Like a berserk animal it began to rip into its bound shoulder with tooth and claw. A quick glance around showed that no one but Beth was in any condition to help him out and she busy peppering it with shotgun blasts.

If it got free it would murder him easily. Even if he ran, it would catch him, his brain informed him. He couldn't think of any smart moves here. He charged forward with a yell, mostly to let Beth know what he was doing so, so she didn't shoot him.

Using the speed from his run, he let an axe fly at the creature's head and watched as it was easily batted aside.

He wasn't discouraged, it had been more a distraction than anything. The brute from earlier proved that he wasn't strong enough for his axes to pierce whatever the Grey legion armoured their minions with unless he had his full weight and power behind it.

Dodging to the the creature's bound side, he tried to use the tangler cords running to the door frame as a shield and strike up from beneath them at the creature's ribs. It just stepped back towards the door and its free hand easily shot out to grab at his wrist.

Derrick let out a short scream as claws dug into his flesh and pinned him in place. Wide eyed, he could only watch in panic as a claw reached out towards his throat.

At the last second though, two things happened. Its head snapped back as a bullet took it in the neck and a knife appeared from nowhere and embedded itself in the creature’s own wrist.

Blake stepped into view from behind Derrick and tried to drive a second knife into the Vanguard's throat. For a second Derrick thought he was saved but at the last second the Vanguard effortlessly shoved him into the approaching Blake, sending them both falling back.

“Fuck,” cursed Blake as Derrick landed on top of him. Derrick rolled away and scrambled to his feet, just in time for him to see the Vanguard dig its clawed fingers into the floor and using the power of all three of its limbs, tear the whole metal door frame off of the concrete that held it.

It leaped at them, only to be pushed back by another shotgun blast, causing it to change targets and use its claws to leave a bloody trail across Beth's chest before grabbing her collar and sending her sprawling into Derrick. It seemed to really fucking enjoy using people as projectiles, Derrick thought angrily as he tried to gently but quickly guide their fallen 'leader' to the ground.

From the corner of his eye he saw Kate send another Tangler flying through the air but even though it came from behind it, the Vanguard it still moved and easily dodged it. Then moved to menace Blake. Working on instinct, Derick leapt like a baseball pro and caught the Tangler, sending it back at the Vanguard.

It was a perfect hit and this time the ribbons wrapped all around the creatures body, not letting it do much more than wriggle. Blake drove a knife into the creature's back over and over, undettered by how mst blows bounced right off.

Derrick stepped up and arced his axe down into its skull. He used every speck of power his tired muscles could offer. The first time it bounced, but after a couple strikes, the axe vlade penetrated and the creature stopped moving with a wet crumpling sound.

“Fucking hell,” said Blake as he limped to look over their wounded.

Derick moved to join him but the other man waived him away.

“Help by getting rid of that fucking door,” he said. “I'll make sure no one bleeds out while you do it.”

Derrick grimaced but didn't argue. His wrist was a mess but didn't seem to be actually broken. Most of the work was already done and it only took a two minutes before he was kicking the door down.

Inside was nightmare fuel. Like the rest of the apartment but worse. Tubes ran over every surface and the shower had been turned into some kind of alien pod. Luckily it was empty, no doubt this was were the Vanguard had been converted.

His experience from the gym let him recognize a lump on the wall near the toilet as the Drone, it seemed to have fused itself to the wall.

He enthusiastically ended the thing and was hit with walls of text from the System.

Grey Injection Drone and Vanguard destroyed, unlocking database.

 

Universal Support System Implant

Grey Legion Injection Drone (E)

Mass produced on Grey Legion fortress worlds and Injected to undefended planets, these mechanical creatures can produce a near limitless variety of drugs and viruses that they use to seize control of native populations and turn them into Grey Agents.

 

With enough time and access to basic resources, they can seize entire worlds for the Grey Legion. Producing fortresses, factories and armies.

 

Always prioritize killing them over Agents.

Grey Legion Vanguard (D)

The most advanced form of Grey Agents, they are as physically boosted as the Grey Legion can make them. A process that reduces their ability to access their original skills and memories, reducing them to more animalistic behaviour.

They are used as Scouts and Irregulars until the Grey Legion has completed the research and has the production capability they need to design and produce their infamous Legionnaires.

 

It is recommended to engage at a distance with powerful ranged weaponry as they are a formidable threat at close ranges. They often posses weak Auril powers, boosting their senses and physical abilities.

 

Derrick's eye twitched at the recommendation on taking out Vanguards. If they wanted him to kill things with powerful ranged weapons, they needed to let him buy powerful ranged weapons.

The only surprising thing here was that the Vanguard that had almost soloed their group was only rated a D threat. That implied that they were far from the scariest thing out there...

 

Universal Support System Implant

Mission Complete

420 points for successfully eliminating Grey Legion Infection

100 points for earning Counteragent title

70 points and Auril Heart trait unlocked for earning Scrappy title

 

Return to Support Station to spend points for vital rewards!

 

Titles Earned

Counteragent

Destroy an Injected Scourge source.

Scrappy

Destroy an advanced enemy before level 2.0 with only a basic melee weapon.


Yes! A feeling of relief swept over Derrick for a second. He'd been worried since this whole thing started that he would fall behind all the people with fancy space guns and rare abilities. Not to mention the creatures he was supposed to be fighting.

Not only did these titles net him points to spend but unlocked a trait as well. Hopefully he could keep up the momentum.

Universal Support System Implant

You are now level 1.3!

You have reached the Level Cap. Level locked for 11.2 hours to prevent damage from excessive modification.

Fighter 1.3 has unlocked the Basic Combat Drug Package (F) trait.

 

Basic Combat Drug Package (F)

(Offensive)

A gland in the spinal column that allows controlled release of powerful drugs. Drugs available:

Spur: Grants near limitless endurance for a 1.1 hours. User will crash after drug loses effectiveness.

Lash: Grants 4.7 seconds of increased mental and muscle speed.

 

Curative Blood (D) trait lowers cooldown by 1.3 hours.

Cooldown is 3.2 hours.

 

Warning: Overuse of combat drugs will degrade mental and physical faculties.

 

Two levels this time. Actually kind of disappointing considering how long it would take him to reach level 2.0. Which he assumed was some sort of benchmark level. Especially considering the shit his second mission put him through. He just needed to do all this four more times. Just that easy.

His first reaction to the drugs was HELL NO. He did not like the idea of flooding his body with powerful alien drugs that even the System, which had no problem using people as fodder, admitted were dangerous.

Logically, he needed all the help he could get though. Certainly Lash would have been useful fighting that Legion Vanguard and it wasn't hard to imagine a situation where Spur would save his life. He'd have to see what they would cost him at the Support Station. They'd be competing with the Auril Heart trait and that sounded important. Not to mention whatever new items his new proficiencies would allow him to buy. On the other hand, even if he didn't use them, just having a trait came with perks for Roles.

He'd love to work this all out now, but he was pretty sure Blake needed help helping the others.

Just when he'd turned around and took a step out of the washroom, yet another System message popped up.

Universal Support System Implant

Multiple disabled Users detected in inaccessible region

Evaluating nearby Users... Conditions declining

Multiple Users at Level Cap detected

Examining local resources... Initiating evacuation to nearby medical facility

Shutting down local active Users. (Adaption/Medical Coma)

Auril contamination detected. Cleansing... Authority Intervention (GazGr).

New mission: Document Auril Echo

Amplifying and interpreting Auril signature

We apologize for the loss of control!


Wait... what...

Still mid step, he crumpled like paper and lay unmoving on the floor.

He dreamed of the Grey Legion, of their tireless march across the stars. Of the Salvation they brought with them.. 

Of world after world, infected and TAKEN. Turned from living worlds to fortresses and monuments to Legion strength. He saw grey spires rise into the sky even as machines dug innumerable bunkers beneath the earth.

Without remorse , the Legion hunted down the populations of entire worlds, entire stellar civilizations and added them to their ranks. Forming armies with forms and weapons taken from a hundred worlds. Forged and refined across uncountable battlefields.

And these were the lesser struggles.

There were holes in the dream. Concepts he didn't have a frame of reference for. He saw the Legion battling great and hungry shadows larger than he could understand. Throwing innumerable stolen bodies and mighty machines into battle against wrathful gods. He saw them unleash fire on festering sicknesses that bloomed across entire planets. 

He saw sleek fleets duelling outside the atmosphere of burning worlds. Moons pounded to dust and drop ships falling like rain on cowering civilizations.

Horror after horror and never flinching, never slowing, never wavering. Like the heart of a great beast, Legion feet pounded ground on a hundred worlds. Sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always fighting until the bitter end.

The dream slowed until Derrick found himself standing on a dusty blue landscape. Spires of rock channelled streams of dust all around him. The wind and dust carried him forward until he stood before a figure that sat, eyes closed, on a plateau of stone.

Like many things he had seen, it escaped understanding. He could not say what colour its skin was or even if it had skin or hair. He knew it was covered in scars though, he could feel them.

It opened its eyes and they were as grey as purgatory.

We See You,” it spoke and its voices were Legion. Slowly, the thing raised a limb and reached to him.“Submission is Salvation.

He tried to pull away but found it impossible to fight the pull of the wind. Just before it touched him, Derrick woke screaming.

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Mirrored

  • Canada
  • Font of Dissatisfaction

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