By S.D. Bingham
It had been many cosmic yearsIn order to have continuity throughout the Alpha Universe, one planet was used as the staple for the Cosmic Time line. This planet (named Urth) was believed to be at the center of the universe. It has an annular solar rotation of 365 days. since the Darkstar’s parasitical weapon was first created, and their initial creation was hardly perfect. So to perfect it the Darkstars decided to test the parasites, on a planetary scale. The planet Lithelia was the first…
A lone woman with light blue silky skin ran down the streets of Lithu, the planet’s capital which was nothing more than a dark, gloomy place with only the illumination of the twin moons lighting the way. The soles of her boots hit the ground in a rhythm as she weaved down numerous streets and alleys.
Lithelia was nothing more than a wasteland now, the fall of the city, the planet, was swift and precise. Initially, reports came in indicating that several of Lithu’s neighbors were attacked, eradicated by a force that struck and then disappeared before any type of investigation could commence. The attackers left no trace but when the first strike hit Lithu, it was already too late.
It was the Fallen Kingdom that was attacking. They first took down Lithu’s energy grid, cutting the city off from its energy source and then forced the people of Lithu to fall back deeper into the city center taking up defensively in one place. Then they fell. Darkstar ships loomed over the city not attacking but instead dropping pods all across the city, pods that struck into the ground and opened with a metallic hiss unleashing a monstrosity on Lithu…
Turning a corner the woman was moments away from colliding into a piece of rubble but instincts kicked in and she firmly placed her hands on the surface and leaped over, pulling her legs up narrowly missing the debris before landing on the ground and moving on, not even breaking her stride.
The woman was Ashla of the Suthurian race, known for their silky skin and natural white hair. Lithelia was the home planet for the Suthurians but now Ashla was one of the two known Suthurians to have survived the Darkstar assault.
Resting against Ashla’s left hip was a moderately sized satchel full of unknown contents. As she moved on she approached more rubble but this time it was stacked up so high, nearly reaching half the height of the low buildings. Still not breaking her pace, Ashla ascended the obstacle in an instant but as she dropped down the other side she landed on a fragile container, the sudden weight smashing it.
Ashla let out a grunt, silently cursing in her native tongue, the echoes of her damage faded away in silence but as Ashla stood up she was cautious, very cautious. Suddenly the silence and darkness was filled with a chorus of groans and moans and slowly figures started to appear around Ashla, coming from the shadows as if they had always been there.
Continuing her cautious movements Ashla turned her head back towards the rubble she had just climbed and saw another group of figures slowly descending, crawling like some sort of animal. These figures were people, their skin decorated with black veins, sharp teeth and eyes diseased and unnaturally yellow.
…The Darkstar parasites were unleashed on Lithu, countless numbers flooded out of the pods and targeted any nearby person they could assimilate. Those who were bitten by the parasites became monstrosities, uncontrollable with one sole desire, to assimilate others. This was not what the Darkstars wanted and the instant they realized the parasites were a failure, they left the planet, leaving the people to their fate…
The infected seemed to stop and stare at Ashla, several tilting their heads slightly waiting for something. Returning to her original position Ashla glanced to her sides unmoving as she watched the infected beings wait for her to move. Knowing that they would soon get bored of waiting, Ashla looked ahead analyzing any further obstacles. In an instant Ashla was on the run once more with the infected chasing right behind her.
It was suicide to stay on ground level, the infected weren’t as quick as the parasites but they were relentless when on a chase. Ashla looked around for opportunities to reach the rooftops, occasionally glancing behind her as her pursuers snarled.
Ashla analyzed the surroundings ahead, rubble littered everywhere but nothing seemed to provide an ideal path to reach the roofs. However as the pursuit continued, Ashla caught sight of an opportunity. Ahead of her was a metal pipe that had likely been dislodged by the building’s destruction but it gave Ashla an idea, especially when she took note that she was soon going to reach the area of Lithu where the roofs were higher up.
Picking up her speed slightly Ashla prepared herself as the infected closed on her. The moment she reached the building’s edge she jumped towards the right, landing her foot on the wall’s face before kicking against her weight launching her high enough to grab a hold of the pipe. Not wanting to lose her momentum and feeling the pipe loosen the instant her weight was on it, she swung her body around the pipe till she had rotated fully, then swung her body onto the pipe, landing her feet on it. Feeling the pipe buckle under her weight, Ashla leaped up and over for the roof.
Ashla grabbed the edge of the roof, her body hit the wall with a painful thud causing her to groan in pain. Hearing the infected below come to a stop Ashla hurried to pull herself up onto the roof. More snarls echoed out and looking back Ashla saw that the infected, the ones she liked to call ‘Crawlers’ had already made their way onto a neighboring roof and were rushing towards her.
Turning around Ashla returned to her running, this time leaping from roof to roof as she neared the edge of each one. Looking ahead Ashla’s eyes focused on a towering building in the distance. Reaching into her satchel Ashla pulled out a slender cylinder.
“I hope this works,” muttered Ashla as she twisted the cylinder’s top before it popped off instantly bursting into a fury of sparks before a blast of energy was shot into the sky.
Meanwhile atop of the very building Ashla had been looking at stood Nithaniel who had similar smooth skin as her but instead was green colored and had much shorter white hair as opposed to Ashla’s loose ponytail. Apart from her, Nithaniel was the only known Suthurian still alive. Their race preferred the isolated lifestyle type on Lithelia so it was unlikely any of their kind were away from the planet before the attack happened. Nithaniel had a visor on as he stood near the edge of the roof looking out at the city. Looking straight down the building the visor picked up a large mass of infected smashing their hands against the building’s doors.
“The infected have become more aggressive in their attempts to break in as of late…our barricades won’t last much longer,” said Nithaniel as he turned his attention back to scanning further into the city. Other than Nithaniel there were two others present on the roof. The first was Krugen, a large Yathurian with numerous scars adorning his torso and his left ear half missing.
The second was a rare sight. Quillion was from the Xerian race. Xerian’s were quite small compared to other races and the quantity of their species was hardly vast. Despite the species’ short comings, the Xerian’s were renowned for having higher intellect than a lot of mortal races and had a rare gift in technological mechanics. The only other thing that made a Xerian unique was that their hair was in fact quills.
As Nithaniel continued his watch a sudden burst of energy shot up into the sky and burst into a shower of sparks. Immediately Nithaniel turned his attention to where it had come from and saw Ashla running in their direction.
“Quillion! Get ready to lower the eastern field and Krugen get the rifle, Ashla’s being tailed by Crawlers,” ordered Nithaniel as he pulled off the visor and hurried over to a makeshift elevator slamming his hand down on the nearby console activating it.
Grabbing the rifle, Krugen moved close to the edge and moved onto one knee before he brought the rifle’s scope to his right eye and closing his left. As Ashla jumped another roof Krugen fired hitting a crawler that had tried to grab her from the alley below.
Ashla landed on the last rooftop evading the surprise Crawler thanks to Krugen. Seeing the elevator descending Ashla rushed over and even before it could reach the bottom she jumped grabbing a hold of it and pulled herself onto it. Nithaniel saw this and hit the button again causing the elevator to stop sharply before beginning its ascent.
Krugen moved from his position and stood closer towards Nithaniel, firing on any crawlers that continued their pursuit up the side of the building. On each of the four corners of the building were very slender metal rods that seemed foreign compared to the building’s architecture. Just as Ashla was going to pass through the gap between the north-east and south-east rods the air between them suddenly shimmered. The moment she passed the rods the air shimmered again and when a Crawler attempted to bypass it, it was suddenly hit by an invisible field literally shocking the infected till it fell off the building.
The remaining Crawlers let out an angry hiss before they retreated down the building.
When the elevator reached the top Ashla collapsed to the ground exhausted, putting down the rifle Krugen picked up Ashla and moved her over to a metal chair. Ashla muttered her gratitude as Quillion approached her.
“So did you get it?” he asked, Ashla almost glared at the Xerian but knew that Quillion was just anxious to get his project operational finally. Without saying a word Ashla grabbed the strap of her satchel and pulled it off her shoulder handing it over.
Quillion’s eyes lit up as he opened the satchel and immediately turned on his heels and rushed over to his equipment. Grabbing a few pieces Quillion moved over to the said project that sat in the middle of the roof.
A make shift Jump Station.
It all started a cosmic year and a half ago when the group had received a transmission being broadcasted out that a Resistance ship was being sent out. Every quarter cycle a ship would arrive and orbit the planet broadcasting the signal for a set time before departing. Quillion brought up the idea of building a Jump Station stating that it would likely be the only way they could reach the Resistance as they had no other methods of contacting or reaching them and they would unlikely land on the planet due to the risk of exposure to assimilation.
So Ashla and Nithaniel, knowing Lithu, were the best set to the task of taking turns to explore the city scavenging parts that Quillion needed while also searching for supplies to survive on. The end result didn’t exactly look like a normal Jump Station but it had all the essentials to make it work. Apart from one piece that was missing which had led Ashla having to run from a horde of infected.
While Quillion got busy working, Ashla got up and walked over to a table cluttered with medical supplies. Grabbing some bandages, Ashla returned to her seat. Medicine and power was the hardest things to get a hold of during the routine searches. Because of the loss of power throughout the city the medical machines were down so they could only rely on material supplies and the only form of power they could scavenge was any small generators and power cells.
Sitting back down Ashla unraveled a length of the material and roughly grasped it till it snapped.
It wasn’t exactly neat but it would do. Rolling up her sleeve Ashla looked at a bandage already wrapped around her upper arm, stained with her blood. Pulling it off Ashla threw the bandage off the roof but just after doing this Nithaniel approached her.
“You’re injured…” it was clear Nithaniel was worried as he looked as his fellow Suthurian.
“I was took by surprise by some infected when getting that last power cell, caught my arm on some metal when escaping,” said Ashla taking the fresh bandage and wrapping it around the small wound.
Nithaniel didn’t say anything more but his eyes glanced over towards the direction where Ashla had thrown the bloody bandage off the roof. When Nithaniel walked away Ashla finally looked up from what she was doing and watched him, her gaze briefly wandering over to Quillion and Krugen before pulling her sleeve back down and standing up.
“So this thing going to work now?” asked Ashla walking up to Quillion.
“Oh yes! It’ll work thanks to the power cell you managed to get Ashla,” said Quillion gleefully as he immersed himself in finishing his work. A small smile crossed Ashla’s face as she hadn’t seen happiness in Quillion in a long time. Even in the situation they were in a Xerian’s pride couldn’t be stomped on.
Quillion took the power cell carefully and placed it in a slot in the back of the main bulk of the machine, closing the panel Quillion’s Jump Station lit up.
Nithaniel patted Quillion on the shoulder appreciatively, “You’ve outdone yourself this time Quillion,” said Nithaniel as he and Krugen started to gather some stuff from the assortment of tables around the roof.
Quillion moved over to his equipment again packing a few things he wanted to keep. As he did this one of his monitors started beeping. His scanner had picked up a ship beginning to orbit the planet.
“Right on time…,” said Nithaniel as Quillion modified the Station to lock on to a Jump Station on-board the ship. Suddenly a thunderous thud hit, everyone rushed to the edge of the roof and looked down to see that the infected were flooding into the building.
They had finally breached their barricades.
Krugen let out a gruff growl as he picked up a thick metal beam and carried it over to the door slamming it down across it to provide some resistance for when the infected reached the top.
“Alright someone needs to take the last spot, we have to ensure the infected can’t reach the Jump Station,” said Quillion looking at the others. Everyone knew exactly what Quillion was specifically talking about.
“I’ll do it, once you three are through I’ll get everything set before I go through as well,” replied Ashla getting a nod from Quillion and Krugen but a small frown from Nithaniel.
It took a few minutes for everyone to get prepared but once they were, one by one they stepped onto the Jump Station disappearing, leaving Ashla alone with Nithaniel.
Nithaniel and Ashla stared at one another as if they were silently communicating. There was nothing but silence until Ashla sighed, “thirty minutes Nith….thirty minutes….”
Walking up to her Nithaniel placed both hands on either side of Ashla’s head and gently guided her so she looked up at him, gazing into her eyes briefly Nithaniel pressed his temple against Ashla’s, a Suthurian tradition.
When Nithaniel pulled away he looked at Ashla once more before he disappeared through the Jump Station.
Ashla collapsed to the ground in pain. She groaned in agony. From her bandaged wound, small black veins started to spread out. Ashla clutched her eyes together pressing her head against the ground as she bit back a scream. Standing up weakly Ashla opened her eyes, her crystal clear tears turned to a sickly dark green.
Pain coursing through her body, Ashla struggled her way over to a separate console that was away from Quillion’s machines. The console was rested on a table by itself and had thousands of leads threading out of it and leading deep into the building. As a precaution, the group had planted explosives wherever they could into the building, providing a means to prevent the infected from accessing the Jump Station.
Ashla nearly crumbled to the ground again but grasped the table in time. Pulling herself up weakly Ashla started turning knobs and pressing buttons till a small green light lit up on the console.
Grasping the table again Ashla started to cough violently. Ashla let out a violent scream of pain as a particular cough nearly knocked her down but stopped when she heard a small tap on the table. Looking down Ashla saw one of her teeth lying on the table in a puddle of her blood. Hesitantly putting a finger to her remaining teeth she yelped slightly pulling her finger back to find that it had been pricked.
Carefully this time Ashla placed a finger against her teeth and could feel an unnaturally sharp tooth amongst her normal teeth. The pain becoming too much, Ashla finally crumbled to the ground. However as her body shook, the Jump Station started to rattle erratically and suddenly Nithaniel came diving through crashing to the ground, his body was bloody and cut.
Turning her attention to him Ashla pulled as much strength as she could muster to get back on her feet and stumble over to Nithaniel collapsing onto her knees once she reached him.
“I…it was a trap…,” gasped Nithaniel as he lay on the ground. “They…shot Krugen down…Quillion captured…”
Confusion crossed Ashla’s face as she listened.
As Nithaniel let out his last breath he muttered one word, “…Darkstars.”
Ashla let out a scream, both of pain and of losing Nithaniel. Placing a hand on his chest she realized her wounded arm was now completely covered in veins and was sickly grey. With shaky legs, Ashla stood up once more and stumbled across to the explosives console again, turning a particular switch that caused the console to turn red and start to beeping. Ashla just stood listening to the beeping gradually rise but as she did realization dawned on her. The Darkstars had likely scanned the planet when the ship first arrived, picking up the group on top of the building, but because they won’t risk getting near their mistakes they waited for them to do something…
“Damn it…,” grunted Ashla as she stumbled to the edge of the table and started rummaging through a left over bag. Out from the bag Ashla pulled out some un-primed explosives. Carelessly Ashla put the explosives in her pockets and dug into the bag again pulling out an explosive grenade.
Looking over at the door, Ashla could see the infected were now smashing against it. Turning her attention to the console she saw the beep suddenly stop before the building started to shake as the first explosives went off.
Grasping the grenade weakly Ashla set the timer. Standing up Ashla started to stumble towards the Jump Station while her body continued to change. Slowly the lights on the machine started to flicker signaling that the power was almost out.
“The Darkstars…will not escape unscathed…they will feel the sting of their creation…,” said Ashla using the last bit of her strength to dive onto the Jump Station, disappearing in time before the building started to collapse in on itself.
The Darkstars discovered that while the average rate of full assimilation was within their desired parameters the victims became uncontrollable and mindless.
For this group of individuals however they discovered one important piece of information that was crucial for their survival…
It took thirty minutes for assimilation to start.
Continue the series by S.D. Bingham with the next installment Mortal Resistance 4: Garv’s Legacy