Jennifer burst back out into the sunlight, her whole body hurting.
Wincing as the light hit her eyes, spearing into her head, which felt like it was cracking open, she tried to raise Martel again. "Martel, respond!...fuck! Come on, Martel! Take off! It's coming for you!" she shouted.
Nothing but a haze of static.
Dead ahead, moving into the base, was the creature. It was pretty hard to miss. Raising her rifle, she began running forward and fired off several three-round bursts. Two of them connected, spraying reddish-black blood across the back of the command building. One of its lights and a solid chunk of meat flew off of it, landing wetly on the ground. Suddenly, the beast reached up, dug its long-fingered claws into the side of the building and yanked. In a rending and shrieking of twisted metal, a solid piece of the structure came away in its grasp. Jennifer gasped as the thing whipped around, hurling the metal towards her with a startling velocity.
She threw herself to the side in a full-body dive, barely managing to avoid getting pulverized by the flying piece of structure. She heard it slam as it hit an obstacle somewhere behind her. Getting back up at least partially, kneeling, she took aim again and fired, but the shots went wide as the creature moved out of her line of sight. How could something so big move so fast? Scrambling to her feet, she began sprinting forward, again trying the radio. But there was just more static. The thing must be blocking her signal somehow.
Jennifer made it to the base, her vision still not fully recovered from the blow she'd taken. She blinked several times, furiously trying to clear it, as she stumbled out into the courtyard. There it was! The thing was already moving away from the base, having moved in between the first two buildings, hurrying away. It was already halfway to the Search and Rescue vessel, though it didn't seem interested in it.
Why hadn't it left earlier?
Did it know she'd stolen parts from it?
No time for answers. She raced after it, firing off several volleys of burst fire, trying to hit something critical or crucial, but the pain was hampering her mobility and throwing off her aim. She only managed to hit it once more across its broad back before it rounded the cliff sheer to the right and disappeared from sight.
Cursing, Jennifer focused on running. It was down to her. She was the only one left to deal with this...unless maybe she could get Martel to help. The woman had access to the Viper's weapons, including a nose-mounted minigun. That should shred the fucker. But without communications, how could she convey the information?
The seconds dragged on like agonizing eras, but she managed to round the cliff sheer. Now she was back out on the packed dirt path and there was nothing between her and the creature, which was closing in on the ship. As Jennifer raised her rifle and took aim at the creature, she flipped the gun to full auto and cut loose. A barrage of armor-piercing rounds nailed the beast directly through its stomach region and caused it to stumble.
An electronic howl cut loose, echoing through the area, briefly drowning out all else.
Jennifer honed her focus, slapping a fresh magazine in and running. She had a plan. All she had to do was herd the thing around to the front of the ship...and hope that Martel was there. If she was, Jennifer had little doubt that she would react instinctively to this obvious threat and open fire, especially if Jennifer was actively attacking it. She sprinted, keeping up the fire as she pushed herself, running as fast as she could.
The creature spun around and loosed another furious roar.
She shot it in the chest. The force of the bullets pushed it back. Either she'd kill it by hitting something sensitive or she'd force it back and Martel would finish the job. At least, that was the plan. She kept up the rate of fire as she sprinted forward, all other thoughts ejected from her skull as she emptied the next magazine and slapped a fresh one in. The awful creature had its huge arms up, defending itself. There was nothing for it to throw at her and apparently it hadn't gotten around to adding in guns to its body.
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Outpost 88 (A Shadow Wars Companion)Horror
A companion short story set during Into the Void. Jennifer North has just had the most harrowing experience of her life. After facing down the Deathless and the wretched entities that stalked the surface of Ash, she has suffered great physical and e...