Chapter 06: Infiltration

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It was darker.

Allan had hardly even noticed, but now it was so obvious that he couldn't ignore it. It was definitely darker. Was day just really short on this planet? No, he thought, looking up as he, Morris, and Han made their way carefully out of the ruined outpost, it was just getting ready to rain. Storm clouds were rolling in smoothly, swallowing the sun and the sky in dead silence. It was definitely going to rain. Even on the heels of this thought, thunder rumbled somewhere in the distance, growing closer. Lightning forked the sky beyond the mountain range.

He paused at the base of a natural incline as he came to it, staring up. Dead ahead, maybe fifty meters up, he could see the dark maw that represented the entrance to cave system.

Fantastic, he just loved walking into pitch black caves.

He took a moment to check the immediate area for signs of life, found none and started the next leg of his journey.

"So, Han, you ever fight anything this weird before?" Allan asked. It was the only thing he could think of to say and he needed to say something to break up the tension that was beginning to smother him as they approached the cave.

"No, nothing like this," Han replied quietly.

"Anything really interesting in your career?"

"A few things. I suppose the closest I've ever come to fighting something like this was what appeared to be some kind of battle android. I was stationed as security in a top secret research facility about five years ago. The military had discovered an old Cyr cache while setting up an outpost on a distant moon. They converted the outpost into a research site and called in Spec Ops to run security. For about two months, there was nothing. Then, one night, they managed to turn it on...and couldn't figure out how to turn the damned thing off. It killed almost everyone in that base. We tried a lot to kill it, nothing seemed to work."

"So how did you stop it?" Allan asked.

"Well, they hit it with EMPs right away, and it didn't stop the thing, so they gave up on that, but I tried a few myself and I noticed that it seemed to slow the thing down. In fact, it was slower with each EMP burst, so it was really just a matter of hitting it with enough EMP grenades. We didn't find that out until near the end, and by then most of the base personnel were dead."


"As am I. It was tragic, but I can safely say that it was certainly an interesting creature. How about yourself? What else have you faced down in your strange career?"

"Well...the strangest thing I ever faced were these shadow creatures. They were like...well, honestly, they were basically just shadows. If they touched you, even through armor, you would become a skeleton. All of your meat, flesh, hair, organs...all of it, gone in a nanosecond. That was a pretty bad time."

"I...see. I have to admit, if we weren't working together in such a capacity as we are now, I probably wouldn't believe that. It's..."

"Fucking nuts," Morris muttered.

"Yes. Extremely farfetched, believe me, I know. I still have a hard time believing it myself. I also have a hard time believing I made it out alive. That was one seriously creepy situation. Still have no idea what they were or why they were."

"It would be very interesting to find out," Han replied.

Allan nodded. They were at the entrance of the cave now. Pausing, he turned to look back the way they had come, and was given a broad view of the vast vista below them. The dense, violently green foliage spread out away from them like a sea for seemingly infinite miles, stretching from horizon to horizon, broken only by the mountains and the outpost below.

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