Nerves of Steele

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To say that the day had been stressful probably would have been the understatement of the millennium.

Fisher stumbled into the disused storage bay and played his flashlight and muzzle across it in a quick, broad arc. There didn't seem to be anything in there with him. He heaved a sigh of relief and, without looking back, slammed his armored fist on the close button. Once the door had closed, he put his back to the wall and slumped down to the floor.

How had it all gone so wrong so fast?

For a long moment, he simply sat there, his eyes closed, leaned back against the wall, trying not to hear the sounds of the damned and the dying. Fisher let his mind wander, tried to make some sense of the chaos that now engulfed his life.

It had started out simple enough. After nearly a month of inactivity out in deep space, the Anubis and the small fleet of vessels it led abruptly shot off to a middle-of-nowhere system. They settled into orbit over a planet called Dis, a mining rock as far as Fisher had been able to figure. A whole bunch of the guys, nearly half their manpower, had taken off down to the surface. He'd hung out onboard the Anubis for nearly a week.

Then it started getting strange.

The squads were bringing up shipments from the surface. Big crates that growled and shook. He'd helped unload them, bringing them to the restricted area of the vessel, the science deck. That had gone on for awhile. And then, suddenly, everyone was pulling out, back up to the ships, and word spread like wildfire that Dis was gone.

Not abandoned, not dead, gone.

As in, the entire planet.

So they'd used one of the planet-killer bombs on it. Fisher regretted not being told what was going to happen. He'd never seen an artificial black hole suck up a planet from the inside. But he'd shrugged it off and gotten on with his work.

Things had continued to run fairly smoothly...until this morning. He'd just gotten finished putting on his armor and grabbing his arsenal for the day, as he was pulling guard duty in the detention center. He'd wondered why they suddenly needed more guard duty there and had managed to piece together that the higher-ups had grabbed a couple dozen 'prisoners' from the surface of Dis, or possibly Onyx, as he knew they had some kind of operation set up there as well. Then the call came through. The lights went red. The alarms sounded.

Shit hit the fan.

The 'specimens' had breached containment and were spreading out from the science deck. Fisher had gone cold then. When the crates he was moving growled and rattled, he took it upon himself to do a little research. He'd been working as a grunt, a glorified security guard, for Dark Ops for three years now. He'd been there for the tail end of the war and had run nearly a dozen different operations after that. Only things were getting strange recently.

In the beginning, there had been a great deal of reporting and 'morals & ethics' sessions and a lot more oversight. Only that had dropped away just after the war. Now, he hardly saw anyone from up top. Fisher reported to his Sergeant and usually just got orders to patrol or stand guard or whatever. He'd always known that the government did shady shit. It was the way the galaxy worked. But over the past year or two, he thought that what they might be doing was no longer government sanctioned. Or at least those who were supposedly 'up top' no longer knew what their Dark Operations were actually doing anymore. So he'd started looking out for his own ass.

He'd seen pictures of the things on the science deck.

They were nasty, inhuman monsters. All claws and teeth and red or black eyes.

And then they'd gotten out.

The next ten hours had been hard-fought. He'd watched dozens of good men and women die fighting what he'd come to realize were known as the Undead...and then the Augmented. At first, when he'd seen the awkward, shambling technician, he'd taken him for a zombie. But then he saw the wires sticking out of his head, the way his eyes glowed. More like neon, less like...fire, maybe, or starlight. And his arm was skeletal, metal.

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