Chapter 01: Before the Storm

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It was coming for him.

Him, and him alone.

Allan stalked through the midnight deserts of Lindholm, nothing in his grip but a modified pistol. His hands trembled. He told himself it was the nighttime chill of the desert but he knew the truth: he was afraid. No, more than that. Not just afraid, terrified. But it was cold. Freezing, even. Something was wrong. The world seemed to come to him in broken fragments. The constant howling of the wind. The twinkling of the stars, impossibly distant. The earthy scent of sun-baked, packed dirt. Goosebumps on his skin from being so damned cold.

But something was very wrong.

Allan stopped and looked around. Where was he again? His thoughts were slow and muddled, mired in a fog of confusion and fear. Why was he here? In almost every direction, there was nothing to see but the endless dark wastelands. In the far distances, dozens of miles away, the dark, angular shapes of mountain ranges occasionally blotted out the stars. There was just one direction, though, that he could see something else.

Dead ahead, lights, a settlement.

But it seemed so far away.

Allan kept walking. Just put one foot in front of the other. He remembered that, at least. How important it was to just keep going, even when it seemed impossible, even when he was alone and drowning in a sea of failure. The only real option was to go on. Because giving up just wasn't in him. Allan knew that now, he could see it clearly, like a glow coming from inside his chest. He couldn't give up, he just couldn't.

So he kept walking, holding onto the pistol, trembling.

Because if he stopped walking...well, he would get him.

Time seemed to shift forward. An era of walking slipped by in what might have been a few seconds. He was there, at the settlement. Allan felt relief sweep through him, but something was still wrong, very wrong. A noise that he had become aware of, a dull, steady thumping sound, was louder now, louder than before.

He was closer.

But that wasn't what was wrong. Not truly wrong. No, it was something else, something that, for whatever reason, he couldn't discern. It was almost like a blind spot one received when looking at a bright light for too long. It was maddening, an itch he couldn't scratch. He walked in between a pair of old, time-warped prefabricated structures. The lights were on, but he could hear nothing save for the ghostly whispering of the desert winds and the constant, dull thuds of an eight foot nightmare wrapped in black armor, getting closer.

Coming out from between the buildings, Allan stepped into a city square. Alone. He was utterly, totally alone. A thought struck him then, a thought that sent mindless terror hammering into his very soul. He was alone not just in the city, but on the planet, a planet he killed. But not just the planet, either. The totality of his solitude was nigh perfect...

He was the only human being left in the entirety of existence.

There was just him and...

...the killer.

Allan stopped moving. Cold. He was so cold. How? He was wearing his armor and it had built in heating elements and-

Allan felt a new terror seize him. He looked down. His armor was missing. All he had on was a tattered blue uniform. His armor was gone. The thought filled his mind like a tidal wave that reared up and swallowed the horizon. How? Where? Did it matter? All that mattered was that he was naked to the world, without his armor.

Surely, it was around here somewhere. All he had to do was find it. Allan began to take a step towards the nearest building when a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. He cried out as he was forcefully spun around. Allan closed his eyes, preparing himself for the worst, knowing what he would see if he opened his eyes. The killer. An eight foot tall killing machine wrapped in black armor, an unstoppable horror from beyond the stars...

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