"Well boys it's a bug hunt. Nothing ever goes this bad and it's not."
Drake took his flash back and ensured that the cap was on securely... Then, he decided he needed a drink. Unscrew the cap, Swig, screw it back on, and in the picket it went. Now that he could see, it was back to holding out the handgun. "Powered air." He observed. "Large vents, carbon filter. It's kind of shitty how it's sort of the primary method of figurin' your not in space." He paused for a moment. "Now I'm thinkin' it aint like Prabhava. They wouldn't let the power go dead just to get a few new guns and a dropship."
Drake thought for a moment and looked over at Miles. "I've seen people attack. They'll have left a mess. When you say 'Bug Hunt,' are there really stuffa nightmares?"
"I-I-I-I think you guys are missing what a bug hunt is. It means we're hunting for a bug but we'll never find one. A bug-hunt isn't an actual bug-hunt. It's like a wild-goose chase. Right now, it definitely feels like a bug hunt. We've found nothin' so far. But that's the best part, something happens. And we should be prepared for that something. Right? Right? I'm still holding my gun if you don't mind Sarge. I feel a lot safer with my gun. My rifle." Vic said.
He was relieved to see and hear the power returning to the station. It relaxed him, put him at ease. But he still had a bad feeling that something was going to pounce him. The power returning only meant that they were going to have an easier time finding whatever or whoever turned the cables off. At this point, he was nervous but not itchy. Having an itchy trigger finger got people killed and he didn't want that. Cool, calm and collected. Vic. Vic! What now?
"What now Sarge?" Vic asked.
"No new gut I mean We might be on a true bug hunt. I believe this might be a Search and Destroy mission now."
As the computer screens came to life, Marcus tapped a keyboard. The log in Systems where security protected. Without one of the miners, they weren't getting into the system. Looking around, he suspected this was going to turn into a 'Bug-Hunt'. Though he secretly thought to himself, we're the ones being hunted...
Turning to the men and woman that were standing around the room, he knew what he had to say and do. Even if he would have preferred not to. "I'm sure you already guessed this, but we gotta go down into the mines. There ain't no one up here and we can't do much rescuing or questioning unless we have someone to rescue or question..." Marcus sighed and looked out of the command rooms windows, at miles and the pilot standing guard over the tunnel. The darkness of the tunnel sent shivers down his spine. He didn't want to step a foot into that tunnel. "We go down there, I want all lights on. I want combat spacing. And lastly, keep your fuckin' eye's open. IF this is a bug-hunt, we don't wanna get caught with our pants down." Marcus said.
Miles replies to Drake, "pretty bad, yeah. Word to the wise? That handgun is your last ditch effort. Very hard, bringing down a Xeno with one. That shotgun there is your best friend. It'll go well with my scoped rifle, too. That said, despite the official reports, I like this in close quarters..."
Miles glances at the Sergeant. "I got the tracker, so if you want, I'll go down first."
Drake put the handgun away and pumped his shotgun. The firearm was pretty smart, so he didn't waste any ammo by doing it and it sent a clear message that he was ready. "I gotta half-year-old waiting for me. Thanks for the tip." He replied to Miles with an almost dead look on his face. They dragged him to fly a ship... Not actually fight. He didn't know guns, he only knew vehicles. Everything he knew about his shotgun was told to him by his "Security guy." Drake frowned and added "Keep me near the front, this gun aint too hot for distances."
Turning on the heat vision mode of his eye and checking his smartgun he asks the Sgt.
"Where you want me sir?"
"So we're going to go find them before we find us huh. I just hope that's the case, I'd rather be the predator than the prey. Bad times I've had in a mine, bad, bad times. Any of you guys worked labour in a mine before? It's not the funnest thing to do. Especially when you're treated as an unwelcome guest." Vic said.
He then drifted into his memories of the mine he worked in.
He had found various unpleasant things during his time working. From industrial waste to dead bodies, mines were treated as a dump on his planet. A place to put things you didn't want. Of course there were plenty of things some people wanted so naturally there were fights. The workers involved were just collateral damage, there would always be workers. But finding a mine with a variety of resources was not as common.
One fateful day, the company had to close because the fighting became too intense. And thus another one of Vic's odd jobs came to an end. It meant that he had to move onto another highly unhygienic and dangerous job, but Vic hoped that he didn't have to work in a cramped area. He was tired of working in an environment where you couldn't reach to scratch your back.
I remember my first time in a mine. I wasn't expecting anything fancy but I knew it was going to be tough when I was put in a tunnel with no light and gas mask and told to crawl miles for resources and crawl the way back.
Vic turned on his image intensifier to get a better image of the place he was going into. It was a strange feeling to go into a place you loathed in a completely different situation. It wasn't the same mine but it was still a mine. He began to lose his feeling of nervousness since it was an environment he was used to. Empty docking bays, not so much. So far, there wasn't much to see except your average mine. So far.
Miles switches on his helmet light and steps up into the dark, cavernous entrance to the tunnel, leading the way. Checking the load and settings on his rifle, he starts the cautious walk into the darkness; his torch cutting through the black, exposing the dank, stained tunnel walls.
"Sarge! Where do you need me?"
With all the motion and activity Dos Santos was starting to feel better; Things were getting done. Sarge had a plan, Sargeants always did. He wanted to be in the best place to help the team and the best way to know where that was, was to ask.
He really hoped his place wasn't with the civ. The look on his face told Josť that Drake was not ready for this.
Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you.. that was the saying surely.
Dos Santos suddenly wished it had been the other way round.
However, people had started pairing up and it didn't look like he'd be with him as it was. Mines! He had never been in one, but he had heard many stories of accidents, conspiarcy. He had been in a cave the day of his supposed promotion.
Had he really skipped that opportunity for a bug-hunt?
His insides started to feel weird, this was so wrong.
While the others were conversing, Ortiz had already made his way down toward the tunnel entrance. He stands there, flicking his shoulder light on with his weapon gripped firmly in hand and peers down into the tunnels, flashing his light into the otherwise pitch black abyss.
"Enough chit chat, hombres, lets get shit done!" He shouts to the group behind him.
"Front and centre Santos..." Marcus said, as he moved towards the doors, about to make his way to the tunnels. "Dubrovsky, check the system log - find what you can and meet us in the main room. Two minutes. Jump too it."
Marcus exited the room, Marines following him. He stuck on a determined face as he looked into the darkened tunnel. Lights flickered along it, casting shadows. It was narrow, a choke point. If all went to shit, this would be there fall back point. Smart guns would tear up anything moving down here.
Looking towards the Civilian, Marcus saw the tension and nerves racking his body. "Drake, pair up with Corporal Murphy, he'll keep you safe. Just watch his back and mind where you point that thing." He said with a glance at the shotgun. With a glance at the command room windows, he watched as the Russian worked his way through the system.
Having taken point, Miles moves a little further down the tunnel. "Hey, Sarge, check this out." He runs his fingers along the curious furrows in the tunnel wall. "Too shallow and random to be mining equipment, I think. And these are long gashes. Almost looks like... 'something' was venting rage on this wall. Either that, or there was some struggle. The edges of the gashes are worn, though, so they're not that recent..."
"Sir!" Jose shouted taking up position, careful not to get too close to anyone else but keeping Miles in from getting too far ahead. Why did it seem so difficult for others to say his full surname. Nevermind, he doubted he could pronounce Dubrovski... or even spell it for that matter, and had been called worse things.
He felt much better now. They were in formation, they were advancing. They were watching each other. They were Space Marines, they could handle anything surely.
Hell they had been adored since before humanity had even left Earth. He bet there had been holographic games and vids back then too. Much like these days there were historical ones about terrestrial soldiers.
You are the baddest mother in this valley he thought to himself.
Miles stopped to examine a gash in the wall. Dos Santos looked back over the rest of the squad, stopping to maintain distance between himself and Miles. Combat formation meant they had to.
Aliens... Aliens... Aliens.... It was all that was in his mind. He imagined robots, giant insects... But in reality, they were more like in the myths. Black crawlers that would wrap you up in eggs... Like some sort of space-zombie, they'd turn you into one of them. or worse, plant eggs in you that would eat you from the inside while you were still alive, trapped.
"Ernfh." Drake shook his head. Don't let it get to you man, the rumors are just rumors... it's not that bad. They're all stories like the kind that Drake himself would conjure up. Aside, His security specialist taught Drake anything, and everything about fighting. As long as he had someone to take the heat off of him, Drake would have it covered. "Arrite!" He assured the Sarge.
"I've been shot at, killed lots. Coupla bugs won't get me." Drake assured, both, himself, and these solders. He's been in worse situations. He's been significantly more sober in said situations. But he got out. He'll get out of this one. He and his crew always got out of nasty situations. These guys could be his crew... With a deep breath and a forced smile, he got a little more confidence. A shot of courage would wait though.
"Sarge, if this is the fall-back point wouldn't we be ripped as well as whatever is done there? Isn't it a bit too narrow? Wouldn't want friendly fire right? Right?" Vic asked.
He continued walking through the mine entrance in formation. He turned off his image intensifier and switched to his shoulder-lamp. Vic shined it on the ceiling to see if anything was there. They could crawl on the walls, and staying up on the ceiling was a tactical move for the aliens. He knew they could since the alien in his BCT usually stayed there to ambush marines. Of course at that time Vic wasn't entirely sure what it was.
Pyotr quickly went to work with the terminal and the first thing he noticed was that the logs had been password-protected. Two minutes was very limited time to try and override the system, not enough reset the system entirely, and not nearly the amount of time necessary even guess at the password. The Russian looked around the work station, searching for any slips of paper or post-its that may have the terminal password scrawled on it. Surely these miners have more important things to remember than a damned... he started thinking before he discovered a taped paper nestled beneath the rounded lip of the metal terminal desk, and here we are. Kneeling down and ducking under, he shone his flashlight briefly over the paper before standing back up and typing in the eight-digit password into the computer. A few short moments and he was looking at the most recent items of the system log. Apparantly this terminal was the workspace of one 'Daniel Williams' as the messages suggested. Few of the personal messages were from family, a couple from a co-worker regarding Williams' laziness, but what had caught his eye was the most recent of messages regarding a shipment of some sort.
From: //Janet Dawes
Subject: //Next shipment
Dan, new shipment is in. Hazard warnings are on, suit up and take a team inside, unload whatever it is using the walkers and get a report in.
RE: //Next shipment
From: //Daniel Williams
Will do Jan! Just a query, the ships log says it's come from Alpherion, that's a hell of a long way? Any idea what's in it? Making a move towards it now, team 4 is on duty -I'll suit up and join them!
Pyotr's eyes darted back and forth, up and down the log entry, getting all the information he could from it. Interesting... he thought, the sargeant must hear of this, I am sure. He made his way from the command rooms and towards the group preparing to go into the tunnels. He quickly stood at attention by the sargeant as he spoke. "Sir, the last entry was about a shipment brought in marked as a hazard and, as the records state, it was coming in from Alpherion. There were no further entries that I could find."
Marcus stood for a second, looking back along the tunnel at the dim light from the main room. He hesitated, then shook his head. "Alright, Dubrovsky. Good report, fall in and stay sharp." With that he continued along the corridor. A set of tracks ran parallel to them, there was probably a cart somewhere along the line. As they walked further into the tunnel a dry heat began to pick up and the slow dripping of water from the pipes above echoed along the dark tunnel.
"Dripping water. Wasn't that a method of torture some time in history? Doesn't work for me, I like the sound." Vic said.
The sound of dripping water wasn't a new thing to him, he was used to leaks where ever he worked so it was a normality for Vic. It comforted him because the sound of the dripping water meant that everything was normal. Nothing had changed. It was a strange comfort. It comforted him but it still made him uneasy. That was the comforting part.
As he walked down the mineshaft, more memories returned to him. Like the time the mine flooded and he almost died or when a cart went off course and killed the other person inside. It had been a usual work day when Vic picked up the unusual dripping sounds. It was much faster. Therefore he tried to crawl back faster, and when the sound of water splashing reached his ears adrenaline kicked in. The time the cart went off course was when Vic and a stranger had to use the cart which was yet to be put under maintenance. He couldn't do anything about it and felt sorry for the man who died.
"Where did that hazordous shipment come from again?"
He asked pyotr as he began checking the ceiling for places the bugs could be hiding
"Wouldn' be me." Drake said, bragging slightly. "I don't transport anything hazardous." he added. Though, he did transport lots of other things. Food, ice, scrap, drugs, contraband, firearms, explosives. Now, the explosives aren't hazardous. Not like this. He checked the others for a moment as he walked down the hall, then mimicked their checks. Ceiling, walls, gun always at the ready.
Pyotr was walking alongside the squad; flashlight in one hand, toolkit at his side and keeping his SMG at the ready. He noticed the cart tracks and slowly followed them with his eyes, as far as as he could see. The short Russian's focus was removed from the tracks and looked at the towering Irishman that spoke to him, a little doubtful that he had any pertinent information in regards to the shipment location. "Well, corporal, the records say it came from Alpherion."
Miles turns away from the scarring on the wall, to Pyotr. "Aw, I spent a fortnight on Alpherion a little while after I first left home. Scummy industrial shithole, if I remember right. Don't drink the water; my piss burned for a week after I left there..."
Dos Santos laughed. "The water on Alpherion is nothing. You should try some of the stuff the farmers and ranchers used to brew up with the old stills they had left over. Officially decommissioned, make a bit on the side, or keep the harvest for yourselves."
"No, no, no you guys have it all wrong. Try working in a cramped mine for months that's next door to an industrial factory. All you can smell is shit and piss, all you can breathe is shit and piss and god help you if there's an actual leak." Vic said.
The discussion intrigued Vic so he joined in, he was all for sharing miserable stories. Living in a crapsack world gave him many, many stories to tell.
Marcus laughed at his Marines discussion. "Yeah, some of it's a shit-hole. Most places are nowadays. The farm land down south's good, nice backwater colony, if memory serves me right." He stopped in a train of through for a moment. "Though what the fuck a cargo ships doing this far out, I have no idea?" He said, a frown coming over his face. He looked further into the tunnel and with some hesitation continued forward along the shaft. It's a rescue mission he reasoned, find the miners and then ask questions.
As they continued to make their way along the dark and long corridor, the dripping of water became louder. The pipes venting steam here and there. Marcus was starting to sweat under his armour. Then, a light appeared in the distance. They were reaching the end of the tunnel. The mines were just up ahead. Just as he was about to tell the others, he noticed a crimson blotch on the floor. Raising his boot, he noticed he had stepped in what seemed to be a pool of blood. A light drip fell on his helmet and slowly, he looked up. In the roof a large hole was torn and from it a little pool of blood was dripping. He squinted and looked closer, it was still a light red and after running his finger through it, felt the warmth. Someone had been here less than an hour ago and so had something else.
All thought of a rescue mission blew from his mind. If the Xeno's were here, then the miners were as good as dead. It had just turned into a bug hunt. Officially. Turning to the others, he saw them looking between the blood and the hole and forming the same conclusion as him. "Now listen up, I wanna make this quick, and to the point, 'cos just like you, all I want to do is get home, jump into a warm bed with a nice hot woman. If we do happen to make contact, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of ya. So you remember, you keep the fire down, you get stuck in and you kick their fucking teeth out, or I guarantee you, they will be eating your bollocks for breakfast." With a look at each of them, Marcus turned and with a last look at the gaping hole in the roof panels, made his towards the light.
The Sarge's words were the only thing that were keeping Jose from losing it. He felt one part of his head screaming that he would die this was the stupidest thing he had ever done. There was no hope surely. He had, however, long ago learned to separate that from his way of doing things. As long as orders were being given he could delegate panic to a part of his brain he wasn't paying attention to. He continued forward, outwardly calm and inwardly controlled in everything he did.
The team is with you. Sarge is here. Nothing we can't handle. He'd had a dream of being shot before. Didn't seem so bad, "bugs ain't gonna shoot you Ze. He's gonna find you and tear you a new rectum" His dead cousin's voice came to mind and the sneering face along with it.
A great time to be thinking of a childhood bully this ain't. What did Marco know about bugs anyway. Come to think of it... that conversation had never taken pl-
Don't get distracted marine. Focus or die.
The Sergeant's words were surprisingly comforting for Vic. It reminded him that him and many other marines armed to the teeth were going up against the xenomorphs. That this was his territory. That he had faced worse shit in the same place for years. That he wouldn't let anything get to him. That his fear was his weapon. You gotta shoot straighter. You gotta be smarter, if you want to survive Vic. He gripped his weapon tighter and focused on how he would act if something ugly did come his way. He didn't intend to shoot the person in front of him. But over-confidence and zeal could cause this. Vic knew it too well.
"Sergeant do you think they'll, break my balls?" Vic asked.
"I fucking told all of ya" Sean said with his thick Irish Accent.
He triple checked his smartgun in every way possible and turned his eye to xeno mode. Any bugs he saw would glow bright green.