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Topic: The Secret of Orion - Second Draft (Read 1965 times) previous topic - next topic

  • Benjamin the Rogue
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The Secret of Orion - Second Draft
The meek may inherit the Earth, but the rest of us are going to Orion :P

The following story is a first draft of something I ended up spending all night writing, because I didn't plan very well. So by the time I got to the end, I was too exhausted to continue the story, so I ended it as badassedly as I knew how to. There's more for this story, and I might even get around to doing that. I wrote this out on Notepad. So I had no spell check, and the paragraph formatting was a pain. Anyways, enjoy.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Even to you that don't celebrate it! Go eat some candy.

Among the 300 billion stars that made up the Milky Way Galaxy, one star system burned with a different intensity. It was the intensity that can only be reached as when life struggles with life. The Orion system was host to this latest struggle.

Three days after a mass uprising and unified attack of an armada, made up of frontier settlers, merchants, bounty hunters, pirates, UEE veterans, and every other human tired of the never ending raids by the Vanduul, reached the former human colony of Armitage. Stretched behind was a trail longer than the human mind could fathom filled with the burnt and mutilated husks of metallic beasts, their hearts of nuclear fire extinguished by the fire of vicious, no-quarter battle. And hundreds of thousands of corpses, some to be preserved for all time as their corpses float through deep space.

The ragged remains of the fleet a scant thousand strong where it had once numbering in the tens of thousands, orbited Armitage. hundreds of crafts made the decent to the surface, carrying supplies and armed teams to seek out the last of the Vanduul, and to make contact with the humans that have for generations held onto their homes when no other humans could do. Upon a one such craft, a recently battered Constellation with an empty snub fighter bay named Tribute to the Goddess, was the newly elected leader for the surface task force among the surviving leadership of the armada. Caster Tiphus stood leaning against the Captain's chair as he listened to the crews chatter as they coordinated the landing site with forces already on the ground.

He wondered how he had ended up here. For the last 15 years, he had been a modest business owner, running a shipping business with his two brothers out of Quinton. A single tour as a Load Master in the UEE Army as a young man and his calm nature had apparently been enough for many to support him to take the position. But not everyone did. There were still factions of the armada that was only loosely tied to the cause. They were still flying around the system, their loyalty to their squadron leaders.

Not many of them were left after the push to Orion. Not many of anyone was left.

He was pulled out of his day dreaming as the big craft began it's final approach to the established beach head. Rolling grey hills, mostly scree dotted by the occasional crater or ancient wreckage.

Taking a longer view of the field, he realized not all of it was ancient. In the distance, he could see the smoking column where the last Vanduul carrier in the system had plummeted in its death throes.

It had carried three of the 4 teams of boarders with it down to their collective doom after they had failed to take control of it in time. No option was off the table for a Vanduul when it came to avoiding capture.

He heard the comms officers switching through multiband radio announcing the same thing on each channel.

"Dirt Forker has arrived on station."

The captain looked up from his displays an announced to Caster their arrive.

"Ok, sir, we're here. Team is outside the hatch now, waiting for you."

"Thanks, Captain Kulstein. I appreciate the lift."

"Sir, it's an honor to have you on the Goddess after what you pulled off with your ship. Sorry for your loss, Commander Tiphus."

Caster suppressed the deep sigh that was trying to escape out of his chest. "Not a lot of options left for me in that situation, Captain Kulstein."

"Well, sir, I don't think a lot of us would be where we are if it wasn't for that."

"Thanks, Captain. I'll catch up with you on the ride back up."

"I look forward to it, Commander."

Caster fixed his combat helmet onto his suit and locked the seal as he walked over to the gantry to go down to the surface. He switched it over to filtered external air. No need to use up his on-board O2.

Down on the surface a large team made up of various ground combat teams waited for him. They were a disparate mix of men and women, some former military, some mercenary. Even some pirates who had pledged themselves to the cause. Their body armor and combat training outstripped anyone else in the fleet by far, except maybe for a very few of the more hardcore pirate boarding parties that still roamed the system looking for more Vanduul to fight.

A tall figure disengaged itself from the team and come over to Caster.

"Commander Caster, I'm Dova Taffin. I'll be leading your escort into the 'Undercity'."

"Than you, Taffin. Um, do you have a rank of any kind?" Caster had met many people in this armada over the course of the last week, and almost all of them had been given or had given themselves some rank. Pirates seemed to avoid it the most.

"No, no rank for me. Bounty hunter by trade. The vets wouldn't accept a pirate in charge, and the pirates sure as hell weren't accepting no UEE cit's authority. So I'm the compromise."

"Ok, Mr. Taffin, what do we know?"

"We've been picking up strange energy signatures coming from underground after the Vanduul carrier crashed 5 klicks to the north west. We had teams land in the area around it, and we found some people hiding in a dead-end cave. Not the best of spots for them. But after they were asked about the area, and if they knew anything that might be giving off these strange signals, they told us it's the city. We asked them what the city was, and they just keep saying the same thing, 'it's where everyone is,' and no matter what, they won't say anything else. They won't talk about anything else now either, so now we've just got them with the doctors that came down."

"Do we know if it's a human city they're referring to, or a Vanduul one?"

"Well, before they lost their damn minds, they'd been asked if they'd seen any Vanduul around here. They said 2 days ago, Vanduul showed up. They landed a cargo ship on the hill where the signal is coming from, then that night unloaded something, and were gone before the sun came up yesterday morning."

"Did we find anything at the hill?" While they had been talking, the unit had moved to waiting vehicles, which were now starting up, and heading north up a path.

"Yes, sir. We found a natural tunnel which lead underground. The team encountered two Vanduul guarding what looks like a vault door."

Caster was beginning to sense a headache coming, but fought the desire to try to rub his temples. "How did it shake out?"

"34 fatalities. We lost the first two teams before they even knew they were engaged. The next two teams didn't fair much better even after they realized they were under attack."

"Got damn it! What the hell happened?!?"

"Apparently these Vanduul were using tech we haven't seen before. They had personal shields, active camo, and once they stopped using their damn knives, they had some sort of powerful shoulder mounted energy weapon."

Caster could feel the headache coming on stronger now, and had to rub his temples. "So were they able to secure it, or are our forces pulled back?"

"No, a quick thinking demo tech resolved the situation. They were only able to find pieces of the Vanduul, but we've got enough to know it was only two, despite all of the earlier combat reports."

"Damn it." It was at this that the convoy pulled up to the cave entrance. "Ok, let's find out what's in there."

Fifteen minutes later, the entire team was in place inside the cave. The vault door was big. Wide enough it would allow five people abreast to walk through it, and two and a half times the height of them. Looking at the door somehow made the eyes hurt. There were patterns on it that seemed impossible to follow with the eye. Casters headache, which had stayed more or less level since they arrived, began to spike at the site of the metallic door. He tried to grind his palms into his eyes before he could stop himself and bumped his gloved hands against the visor of his armored helmet.

The demolitions expert that had survived the fighting for the tunnel came back with her team as they finished the last touches of the explosive charges on the door.

"Will we be able to get through?" Caster asked her as they came trotting up.

"Well sir, when in doubt, P for Plenty..." came her only reply.

"Ok, we've got time to do this right, if you need it." Caster told her, suddenly alarmed.

"No, sir. We can't get any readings in this place from any of our instruments because of the signal that's coming from underground. We could stand here sitting on our thumbs and staring at that door for days, and we still wouldn't know how thick it was, or how to get in. There are no mechanisms on the exterior that indicates an activation point for the door. So that means who ever goes in and out probably uses a device that transmits a signal through the door to make it open. We'd need every computer from here to Terra crunching to figure out the combination for that. And that's not even taking into account the signal jamming anything. So. P for Plenty."

After absorbing this wave of information, Caster couldn't argue the logic of the conclusion. All Caster could do was to agree and give her the command to go ahead.

After her shouted warnings, everyone pressed themselves into every nook and cranny they could to take shelter, and she pressed the detonator.

Caster could not explain what happened next. It wasn't what he expected at all. He doubt it was what the demo tech had expected either. He felt the concussion pass over his armored suit, heard the roar after it had gone by. But he knew, instantly, that they had breached the door. Not with his body. With his soul. Even as he felt the explosion rock his braced frame, he felt another sensation, an implosion. One that pulled at his very being, trying to tug his soul straight out of his body, out of his suit, and down the hallway into the now open door. He heard himself screaming, but he knew his mouth wasn't open. He could hear himself screaming, in his own head. His headache exploded into pain as all of this happened, and he couldn't see anymore. The world stretched out into a darkness forever, and it was nothing but pain. And someone waiting for him.

Suddenly he realized he could hear whimpering. He was afraid that it was him for a moment, but it wasn't, it was coming from behind him. He wondered how long he had blacked out, but as his senses came back to him, he realized that barely even a second had passed. The wave of dust and smoke from the explosion was just now washing over them. He could still here someone whimpering behind him. He could still hear an echo of someone, somewhere, screaming in terror in his ears.

"Is everyone ok? Get a comm check going." Caster ordered, trying to grasp on to something solid to do.

Everyone began making reports in to Taffin though oddly as hesitantly and shaken sounding as Caster himself felt. Caster looked over to the tech, through the cloud of fine dust and smoke. He could barely make her out on the other side of the tunnel, but he could tell she was staring at nothing, hand still tightly clamped around the detonator, fingers depressing the initiator.

Castor suspected he had been doing the very thing just a moment ago. Trying to remember if anyone had told him her name, he gave up and called out to her."Tech! Hey, tech! TECH!"

She looked up at him, visor covered in fine dust that was slowly drifting off of the no-stick surface.

"Sir...I...it...worked." She was obviously struggling as much as Caster had trying to pull his thoughts together.

"Yeah, I know, tech. I know." He could feel the opening in the door all the way down the tunnel. He knew they had breached it. Something told him they had to go inside. What was in there was the truth of what they had felt. He felt strange thinking all of this, but it made his headache subside some.

Everyone had reported in, but he could tell from listening to the voices, everyone else had felt what he had felt, or something like it. They had to go in there though. He knew they had to go in there. He ordered the team up, and they advanced down the tunnel.

The door was almost completely gone. It had not turned out nearly as thick as everyone had thought. Inside the mouth of the tunnel, they found pieces of the door, and and more tunnel, leading deeper under ground. The floor was level, so it was not going down, but the farther it traveled the farther it went under the hill, and the surface drifted farther away from them.

"Commander, we're still not picking up anything useful with the readings except for the signal that's washing everything out." Dova Taffin had come up along side of him. Caster could hear from the strain in his voice that the man was not doing well, fighting some sort of panic. Caster could still hear someone groaning every now and then, or a whimper escape from someone's lips and into their comm system. But they could all feel it. The thing tugging them onwards. The night vision they were forced to switch over to as they passed beyond the reach of the construction lights left near the door tinged the world green and grainy.

"Are we in danger?" Caster could feel the headache threatening to overwhelm him, he felt sick to his stomach, his limbs weak. Only moving forward helped. There was no turning back. He was almost at a jog, one of squads ahead of him, moving at the same quick pace, scanning every crevices of the tunnel wall as they moved.

"There's no way of knowing, Commander. We have to slow down! We can't keep moving like this!" Taffin's voice reeked of cowardice. Caster could smell it even through the comm. After all of the deaths, after everything they had done, this fool wanted to stop? NOW?!? Literally at the very end of the journey?

"No. We have to keep pressing. This is it, this is the final place we take, and Orion will be ours. Every world will be ours. Keep the team moving." Something about what he had said sounded wrong. He couldn't focus. The headache was getting worse. How could it be getting worse? He was moving forward.

"CONTACTS!" rasped a winded voice. Caster doesn't remember when they had started to run. "I've got conta..." the voice faded off.

Everyone threw themselves to the ground, or into cover along the tunnel wall. Everyone except for Caster. He kept running until he caught up to the forward squad that had gotten ahead of him.

"What is it?!?" he barked as he come up on the team.

The team had gone to a prone position, except for the man at the front. He had started to go to a knee, but was frozen. Caster looked up, and beyond him in the green gloom, he saw what had frozen the man.

Growing out of the tunnel walls were people. People lined the last few meters of wall as it opened out into a huge cavern. Each and everyone of them had a dagger pinned thru their chests, which a chain coming off of the end of the handle. Every chain ran in the same direction, deeper into the cavern.

But Caster wasn't looking at the chains. He was looking at the people coming out of the walls, chests impaled with daggers. He was looking at them, and they were all looking at him.

He could hear one of the gunners behind him crying. "We...ah..." Caster knew they were looking straight into his eyes. They each had their head turned towards him. They couldn't possibly be alive.

They were withered looking, beside the daggers. But as he moved, he could see their heads turning.

"We have to...we have to keep going! We didn't come here to turn back! This world is ours!" Casters headache was more than he could bare. He was drooling into his helmet as he talked, unable to stop himself. "Teams, push forward! They're just corpses!"

"Sir...I think we need to go. And now!" Taffin and his team had caught up and were seeing what Caster and the forward team were seeing.

"NOOOOOO!" Caster could feel the primal rage ripping out of his throat as he turned on the bounty hunter. "We continue! This is the end! Here is where we will end everything! Everything!" Caster clicked his mouth shut, suddenly confused. He hadn't intended to say anything like that at all. He was almost blind from pain again. The green wash of the night vision was struggling to display anything in this deep dark work. It was making him sick.

"Sir. I can't take my team in any deeper. We're going back. You can continue on if you want, but I'm not sending my team."

"But you can feel it. You know we have to keep going!" Caster knew he needed them to come with him. He wasn't stopping. Not here. Not so close. Close to what? He turned, and walked down the tunnel. Some of the team followed, the others stood where they were, unsure of what to do.

"I CAN feel it! THAT'S WHY WE NEED TO LEAVE!" Taffin grabbed Caster's shoulder as he started to walk by.

*POP*

Caster didn't even know when he had drawn his solid ammo sidearm, much less raising it and firing it point-blank into Taffin's armored upper body.

Taffin look at him in surprise, as did everyone else. Caster could feel the force of Taffin's hand turn from a pull to a push as he learned into Caster.

*POPPOPPOP*

Taffin pushed past as Caster shifted his stance and Taffin's gloved hand lost purchase of the armored shoulder of Caster suit, and he stumbled forward, arms flailing for something to stop his momentum, before flopping onto the ground with a gasp of pain.

Taffin, groaning, began to sit up and lean against the wall.

"We are moving on! We are not turning around! Medic, stay with him. He no doubt has several broken ribs now. The rest of you, with me. I know you feel it like I do. I know you do! We have to do this! For everyone that died getting us here!"

The team stumbled into motion. Everyone's breaths were coming short and labored. Everyone's eyes were on the bodies that weren't just bodies coming out of the walls as they advanced. Caster refused to look at them as their heads turned to follow him, and he came up upon the cavern entrance to a jingle of chains which rattled as he stepped on the ones trailing across the ground.

There was no way to determined the size of the space before them. The light was so low now that not even the night vision could show them anything except what their suit lights could illuminate. They needed more light.

"Torches on." Caster activated his own suits illumination as he made the order.

The sudden light from nearly two dozen lights coming on flooded out his suits night vision, and it quickly adjusted to the new levels. Suddenly, they could see what was in the cave. Several members of the team reacted immediate. One of the pirates turned and started to run screaming back down the tunnel. Several other members had begun screaming as well, but were too paralyzed from what they were seeing to be able to move. One unfortunate person immediately vomited inside their helmet. Caster couldn't do anything. The pain in his head, the tugging at his soul, forced him to continue on. He took a step toward what lay before him.

The cavern walls 200 meters part. The floors, and ceiling, 20 meets up, were packed with people who appeared partly absorbed into the surfaces. Dissected looking people were everywhere. But among them were fresher specimens. Male and female. Young and old. There were at least one person from every corner of human space. Caster spotted among some of the fresher looking humans Operation Pitchfork patches on their torn and damaged suits. One and all, they were all staring at him.

But he no longer cared. In the middle resided a mountain of human body parts. The pile quivered and shook. Limbs waved and move freely, hands grasping at nothing. Caster realized that all of the bodies he could see were the same as the ones by the cave entrance. They all had chained daggers stabbed into their chests, and the chains flowed like a water, chains linked to other chains, toward the center.

He started walking forward, ignoring the team as the minds of hardened soldiers began to crumble. He had to reach the mound. He knew that within that flesh lay victory.

Suddenly every mouth of every the human residing in the cave opened, and they spoke. To Caster.

"Human. Why did you come here? Could you not feel the wrongness of this place? Why were you not compelled like the others of your species to leave?"

The pain in his mind subsided for a moment, a feeling almost like surprise came over him. He felt terror at the sound of thousands of voices, but that feeling of surprise was there, in the back of his mind. It did not feel like it was his emotion. He felt like he had to tear it out. He reached up and unlatched his helmet, and pulled it off.

The smell of the place hit him in the face like a physical blow. He forgot what he was doing, and immediately fell to his knees and vomited. He felt like he was vomiting up everything he had ever eaten, and it was going to go on forever.

"Human, you know not what you do here. Turn around, and leave. There is nothing here but Death. The Death of Everything."

Sitting up, Caster was able to see something he had missed. A Vanduul. The biggest Vanduul he had every seen. Every chain from every dagger lead to the Vanduul. A dagger the size of a small sword impaled the Vanduul's chest, and the network of chains linked to that dagger. Another, smaller dagger was stabbed into the top of the Vanduul's head, and from the handle of that dagger a silver chain inscribed with eye-wateringly complicated inscriptions ran to the giant pile of flesh. There a softly glowing dagger lay jammed into the flesh.

How had he missed the glowing light of that dagger? It was a golden light, a beautiful light. That dagger is what they had all come for. With that dagger, he could finally kill all of the worlds. It is what he was born to do. He knew that now. He finally understood. He climbed to his feet, and ignoring the weeping and teeth gnashing of the team, walked toward the flesh mound, and that sweet light. He could feel the pain in his head was disappearing. He felt warm fluid trickling out of his nose and down his neck. He was crying warm tears. He could barely hear from the fluid that was coming out of his ears. He was almost there.

"Human, turn back! You are being used! Are you such a simple creature you can not sense what is happening?" The Vanduul tugged on the daggers lodged in its body as it reached for Caster. He stayed away from it. He new he had to get to that golden dagger in the mound.

The mound of body parts was quivering now, almost as if it was eager for what was coming. He was almost there. He reached out and laid a hand on the dagger.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Every mouth there bellowed out the same disbelieving outraged Caster had towards Taffin. Even the Vanduul's own mouth was extended in rage, though he was facing away from the dagger, and could not have possibly seen the moment the human had grasped the dagger.

Caster only had the smallest patch of vision left. His head was so full of pain, his vision barely existed at all. But he had it, he finally had in his disgusting fleshy hands what he had waited millions of years for. Freedom was his to take, and no one could stop him. Every world would be his to kill. Every star would be his to feast upon. Every soul...

Caster felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned his tunneled vision to look at who had him by the shoulder. It was the demo expert, who's name he had never learned. She was looking at him, blood streaming from every orifice of her face. She opened her mouth, and breathed out her last words.

"Sorry, sir...when in...doubt...P...for plenty."

Caster had just enough time to see that the lights of every demo pack she was carrying on her suit were lite up right before she depressed the initiator. The last thing he felt before turning into a cloud of atoms was someone's ancient and terrible rage at having been stopped so close to its goal again.
  • Last Edit: November 01, 2013, 11:02:57 PM by Benjamin the Rogue

  • Andy_H
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Re: The Secret of Orion - Second Draft
Reply #1
That was pretty good. Well done, Sir!

  • Benjamin the Rogue
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Re: The Secret of Orion - Second Draft
Reply #2
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. I was hoping to have an extended story ready in time for Thanksgiving, but I've had too much going on to really improve on it since then. But I'll get it done eventually.

  • Ratu
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Re: The Secret of Orion - Second Draft
Reply #3
Awesome story, well done sir!

  • TrItOn
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Re: The Secret of Orion - Second Draft
Reply #4
Wow,
Good stuff! Wow, i'm impressed Benjamin...and you haven't written more because????????????!
;D
שם טוב ולא להיבחר מאשר עושר גדול, ואוהב לטובת ולא כסף וזהב. kJV Proverbs 22:1