Streaks of light covered the noon sky as a rain of meteors entering the atmosphere in a spectacular display of fireworks. The class paused and everyone crowded at the windows, wooing and awing in appreciation of nature's fireworks.
Blake stood behind the girl he has been dating for the past few months and smiled with her as she laughed and clapped joyfully. Despite the light coming from the G type main sequence star that hung over the skies in an orange glow, the meteors burning up in the atmosphere was bright enough to be seen with the naked eye against the backdrop of the turquoise green of the atmosphere of the colony world.
Suddenly the cheers of the students turned to cries of terror when the meteors slammed into the polytechnic buildings and the surrounding areas. Blake hugged his girlfriend protectively in his arms as he tried to squeeze his way out of the classroom with the other panicking students. A weather siren blared out and a computerized voice started advising people to procced into the storm shelters in a calm and orderly manner.
The building shook again and the fleeing students cried out in fear. Blake looked out of the cracked window and saw a teacher who taught astrology standing frozen with his recording gear at the carport. He remembered that teacher had the days before, sent out a social media post regarding the meteor shower that had been detected by deep space sensors and was excited telling anyone who was interested that it will be a chance in a lifetime to witness.
Blake flinched back in horror when a streak of eye searing light slammed directly onto the carport and instantly the area went up in flames and smoke. The shockwave from the impact shattered the remaining windows and sent the scrambling students flying.
When Blake recovered, he saw the carport where the teacher once stood had turned into an inferno. A large chunk of space rock as large as a double decker bus glowed cherry red in the impact pit and smoke constantly billowed out from its surroundings.
"Come on!" Blake called out to his girlfriend and pulled her to her feet. He ignored the cries of help from the wounded students around him as he cared only for himself and the girl next to him. He suddenly paused when a strange cracking sound was heard from the meteor. The noise was loud enough that it piqued his curiosity and he turned to look out of the destroyed windows.
The glowing meteor rocked violently on its side, while its outer layers peeled off or crumbled away. Suddenly, its sides cracked open and some wet and sticky mass popped out, sizzling as it came in contact with any hot surfaces. Several long slim spiny looking appendage appeared from the cracks and a creature unlike any Blake has ever seen crawled out.
Blake stared in horror as more and more of those alien creatures crawled out and he turned to his girlfriend, wanting to tell her to run. Instead, he found himself holding the scythe claws of a Swarm drone. Its opened mouth consisting of sharp cutting beaks loomed up over him and swallowed him into darkness.
Blake jerked up from his bed in shock, his heart pounding rapidly. He blinked his eyes and looked around his surroundings, finding himself in his room. The nightmare of the Swarm invasion which he had not dreamt for many years had returned to haunt his sleep.
Holding his chest which his heart was still racing rapidly, he climbed out of his sweat soaked sheets and entered the bathroom. His hollowed face in the mirror no longer look familiar to himself under the glowlights and he turned the shower on.
After a quick cold bath, he changed into a new set of clothing and stood before the wedding portrait hung on the wall. His once form fitting clothes now hung loosely over his thin frame, having lost over ten kilos in the past few months.
After a moment, he sat down on his work desk and powered up the computer and keyed in his credentials. Blake took a deep breath and clicked on the unread reports in his system and started to immerse himself with everything that had happened in the past few months.
United Nations, Seacliff Mining and Dungeon Town, Dungeon Final Level
Two Armoured Support Autonomous Golem MK IIs made their way slowly across the long expanse of the bridge side by side. Their forelimbs carrying ballistic shields were deployed facing forward while the gunners in mounted armoured cab manned the 50 calibre heavy machine guns on their backs.
Two sections of Army soldiers hurdled behind the moving ASAGs, using them as cover as they made their way cautiously across, towards the large platform at the end of the bridge. The level was hot and lit up by glowing lava. Several lavafalls flowed down from the ceiling, the bright cherry red of molten rock splashed into the sea of lava underneath the stone bridge.
Massive chains thicker than a person's body supported the bridge at regular intervals, holding the bridge dozens of metres above the bubbling lava. As they advanced forward, the bridge and the chains will sway slightly, making them pause to steady themselves before they move forward again.
Behind the advance party, the Adventurers' Inc. survivors and members of Claymore One followed on. Further back, the remaining soldiers brought up the rear with another two ASAG MK IIs, acting as the rear guard. Both the Adventurers' Inc. and military had come to an agreement to work together to finish the final level.
Karl had only allowed his people to volunteer to enter the dungeon, while those unwilling, he did not push nor pressure them to do so. In the end, except for the heavily wounded, everyone volunteered to go, including Justze and Ciel, which made Irisval quarrel with her brother and in the end, she lost the argument and came along, to protect him.
The bridge seemed to stretch on for over a kilometre with no monsters in sight, not even traps of any kind. Finally, they reached a huge platform that appeared to be supported by more massive chains. The platform was diamond shaped which connected the bridge to one of its pointed edges.
At the end of the platform, was a simple stone pedestal which an orb floated and radiated a golden glow. The advance party paused as they observed their surroundings carefully and Tyrier gestured the advance party to spread out to the sides and be on the alert.
"Watch your surroundings and don't get too close to the edge of the platform!" Tyrier warned the men. "If you fall down... Not even the gods can save you!"
The unadorned platform which appeared to be carved out from a single piece of rock was as large as a football field. The men of the advance party cautious moved to the sides of the platform, their weapons pointing in all directions.
Hitsu sighed as he looked at the glowing orb, "Damn... this looks like that game which I played the other day... A perfect stage for a boss fight!"
Seeing that nothing has happened after a while, Tyrier turned to the Oerkin in charge of the Adventurers' Inc. He gave nod to the ex Oerkin Chieftain and together they entered the platform and headed straight to the glowing orb.
As Tyrier and the rest stepped onto the middle portion of the platform, the entire level suddenly rumbled. Pockets of lava erupted upwards while the chains holding the bridge and the platform rattled, knocking the expedition force down to the ground as the platform shook wildly.
Just as it suddenly started, the sudden quake stopped and swinging platform slowly settled down. The ceiling rumbled and red hot lava fell from down directly at the centre of the platform.
"Get away from the centre!" Someone yelled and everyone retreated as fast as they could from the lava raining down. The molten lava slapped hard against the surface of the platform and strangely it did not splash or flow away, instead, it seemed to congeal together into a lump.
When the lava stopped pouring down from the ceiling, a rough humanoid shape had formed from the lava, standing at over three storey in height. It flexed its crude hands that had three stubby digits and lumbered towards the closest soldiers, leaving behind burning rock prints.
"Fark you and your farking big mouth!" Altied cursed Hitsu as he fired his weapon with the rest. Impacts from bullets broke the cooler outer rock layer and exposed molten lava that splashed out like blood.
"It's a Fire Elemental!" Irisval cried out in warning. "We need water or ice magic!"
"Ice spear!" Those adventurers proficient with magic started tossing ice or water attribute spells at the creature. The ice spear instantly vapourised into steam upon impact and the area of the effect hardened the fiery layer of the Fire Elemental. It seemed to give a noiseless roar as it turned its attention to the spellcasters, ignoring the bullet impacts.
"Bring out the cold gear!" Tyrier yelled at the rear support troops. The soldiers of the rear guard quickly pulled out heat protection wear from the storage bins of the ASAGs while others grabbed tanks of liquid nitrogen out.
Knowing beforehand that the final level was a level set in lava, the operation planners guessed that they were highly likely to encounter fire attribute creatures, hence they came loaded out with equipment especially aimed at defeating any fire attribute creatures.
"Keep that thing busy! Hold it off for five minutes!" Tyrier yelled at the rest before turning back to the support troops. "You all better gear up in five minutes!"
Loud harsh barks from anti tank rocket launchers echoed out as the soldiers did not hold back with their firepower. The explosions caused by the AT rockets staggered the Fire Elemental and sent scorching jets of lava spilling out from its body but other than enraging the Fire Elemental, it seemed to due no other damages.
Ciel with her magical abilities being fire based, could only uselessly fire her shotgun which the lead pellets seemed to melt before they could even touch the Fire Elemental. Even Turok and Leon, who wielded a great axe and sword respectively, could not even approach the Fire Elemental due to the heat radiating off its body even with protection spells.
Justze and Irisval faired no better, as their elemental powers seemed unable to affect the rock platform. Even the bits and pieces of rock that hardened from the dripping lava of the Fire Elemental were either too hot or too little to cause any damage or effect to the Fire Elemental.
The Fire Elemental swept its arms wildly, sending waves of scorching heat and flames. The troops and adventurers scattered as far as they could from its lumbering attacks. Those too slow to avoid its attack, screamed horribly as they were roasted alive.
The fight with the Fire Elemental soon turned into a deadly game of cat and mouse. Those closest to the bridge fell back to the bridge while the others sought for a way to dodge its deadly sweeping arms.
Finally, the support troops at the bridge had loaded up their gear. They advanced forward in teams, giving their spray nozzles a few experimental squirts and waited for and opportunity to get close to the Fire Elemental. But with the sweep attacks of the Fire Elemental, the support troops could not get close without getting crashed or smashed away.
"Get ready to distract it so that they can spray it with that cold liquid!" Tyrier yelled at his men before instructing the support teams. "Go for its legs once it's distracted!"
Hitsu looked at the rest of Claymore One and sighed, "This is why I did not wanna come into the Dungeon!"
"Claymore One!" Tyrier took a deep breath and yelled. "Do you want to live forever?"