16 | RACE TO EXTRACTION
DECK 11, MENDEL STATION | 0714 HOURS ZULU
McAdams made her way through the doorway into the stairwell and checked up and down before ascending to the next deck. She hoped that the rest of the way up would be free of hostiles.
She was not so lucky.
Halfway up the stairs to the next deck she spotted a scientist hybrid standing in front of the door to deck nine. Without hesitating, she squeezed off a single shot that hit the hybrid in the side of the head and splattered its brains onto the wall behind it.
McAdams and Gordon charged up the rest of the stairs as another two hybrids appeared in the doorway. The two marines both fired off quick shots that removed the head of one and staggered the second back with a hole in its chest.
“Mike!” Gordon called out and motioned to the side of the door with his free hand.
McAdams hit the wall on the other side of the doorway opposite of Gordon as Karzarian charged up the rest of the way up the stairs as he let his carbine hang free on its lanyard as he pulled a stardust grenade. As his foot hit the landing, he popped the release on the grenade and chucked it through the doorway.
“Fire in the hole!” Karzarian yelled out and dived out of the direct facing of the door.
The explosion from the grenade ripped through the hallway and doorway, shredding everything in its path. McAdams and Gordon waited only a split second before sweeping into the hallway as to not given any surviving hybrids a chance to recover from the grenade. They found three more hybrids in the hallway and all of them were dead.
“I’m getting real tired of these things.” McAdams said sourly.
“Seconded.” Gordon replied and prodded one of the dead hybrids with his boot just to make sure it wasn’t playing possum.
“Ug.” Karzarian groaned has he slowly got to his feet. His dive out of the path of the grenade had resulted in him banging his broken arm against the bulkhead.
“You trying to play cowboy again?” Yamoto said with a half grin on his face.
“Yeah yeah, laugh it up.” Karzarian said.
Gordon came back into the stairwell and looked over Karzarian with a playful glance, “Well no one told you to go throwing yourself into the wall.” he said.
He rolled his eyes and took his carbine back up in his good hand, “If we were running for our lives we would settle this here and now.”
“Promises promises.” Gordon snickered and then shook his head, “All right, we still got six decks to go and only fifteen minutes until extraction.”
“I got point,” McAdams said as she started up the stairs, “Cause clearly you men won’t get us there on time.” she said with a grin.
The three marines chuckled and started up the stairs after her to the next deck.
Like the previous decks, they checked the door and locked it down before making their way up the stairs to the next one. Like clockwork they worked and all the silliness was put to the side as their timetable was beginning to turn against them.
Upon reaching deck four, McAdams made her way to the closed door and opened the control panel to lock it down. As she punched in the code the door to the deck suddenly slide open and a hybrid stepped into the stairwell and grabbed her by her injured shoulder. She gave a painful scream and tried to wrestle away, but its grip was like an iron vice and refused to let go.
“Tracy!” Gordon yelled and raised his R-92 to try to take a shot, but the grapple between them made it impossible to get a shot off. He then pivoted towards the doorway just in time to see another hybrid running though with its hands extended. He squeezed his trigger and put several shots into the hybrid’s stomach, causing it to tumble forward into him. The weight of the creature threw Gordon off his feet and sent him down onto his back.
“Shit.” Karzarian said and made his way up the rest of the stairs to try to help Gordon, but had to redirect his focus as another hybrid pushed its way into the stairwell. He squeezed off a three round burst into the hybrid’s chest and then his carbine clicked empty. He growled in frustration, let go of the carbine, drew his sidearm, and squeezed off several rounds into the hybrid until it finally dropped dead.
McAdams let go of her carbine to swing loose on its lanyard since the hybrid was too close for her to get an effective head shot. She then used both hands to his the creature in the elbow that caused its grip to soften. Now that she had an opening, Tracy twisted at the hips to turn her body sideways while her hands grabbed onto the hybrid’s arm and twisted it around to break the grapple and slam it face first into the wall. She then quick drew her G-10 sidearm and put a bullet in the back of its head.
The hybrid on top of Gordon snarled and snapped with its mouth at his throat as he struggled to throw the thing off him. The mutated scientist was simply stronger than he was with its augmented strength and slowly began to push away his hands to deliver a deadly bite onto his throat.
Just as the hybrid was about to tear out his throat, the creature’s body went slack and slumped down on top of him. Surprised and relieved that it was not moving, Gordon rolled the body off him and sat up to see Yamoto beside him with his vibroblade in his hand.
“Oh thank god.” Gordon said and laid back down to catch his breath.
“Incoming!” McAdams called out as she picked back up her carbine and checked the doorway. Down the hallway of the deck, she saw more hybrids running their way.
“Changing!” Karzarian called out as he struggled to change out the magazine of his R-92 with only one good hand.
Gordon scrambled to his feet and recovered his carbine. “Get that door closed!” he called out.
“No time!” McAdams said. She then pulled out a stardust grenade and tossed it into the hallway. “Fire in the hole!”
The marines covered up as the exploding grenade ripped across the hallway. After the concussion shockwave passed, McAdams and Gordon moved into the hallway with their R-92 carbines at the ready. To their left and right they saw a herd of mutated scientists picking themselves off the ground and regrouping for another push.
“You got to be kidding me.” McAdams seethed.
“Pull back!” Gordon said and sent a wave of suppression fire down the hallway.
“Fuck this station.” Yamoto grumbled and then picked up Daniels body over his shoulder.
“I got point.” Karzarian said and made his way up the stairs past Yamoto and to the next deck having finally switched out magazines.
“Go!” Gordon yelled to McAdams as her carbine clicked on empty after a heavy burst of suppression fire.
“Don’t wait too long Sarge.” she said and quickly moved out of the hallway as she changed out magazines.
Gordon paused for a moment to load a stardust grenade into his AP200 grenade launcher and send it flying down the hallway to his left. The grenade skipped and bounced along the floor of the hallway and right between the legs of the advancing hybrids. Gordon then reached back for another grenade and found his pack empty.
“Aw fuck me.” Gordon grumbled and instead unloaded another barrage of bullets down to the right while to his left the grenade exploded in the middle of the pack. Body parts went flying in every direction followed by a secondary explosion that rocked the entire station. He lurched forward and grabbed onto the doorframe to keep himself from falling over.
“What the hell?” Gordon said as he looked up and around. The red emergency lights flickering off and on as the sounds of fluctuating power resonated across the deck. The remaining hybrids had all fallen over and were in the process of picking themselves off the ground.
Seeing a good opportunity to put some distance between himself and the creatures, he stepped into the hallway and punched in the code to shut the door. The now intermittent power caused the control panel to return an error code and refused to shut the door.
“Come on!” Gordon slammed his fist onto the control panel, but it only beeped the error back at him. With precious little time left, Gordon decided to forget the door and charge up the stairs after his marines. If they were lucky, they might just be able to shut the higher deck’s door instead.
He rounded the turn in the stairwell and skipped stairs as he ran up to deck eight. The door to this deck was already closed and there were no signs of his marines, though he could hear them still making their way up the stairs. Gordon bypassed the door and skipped his way up another flight of stairs were he finally caught up to Yamoto who was starting to breath hard from running up stairs while carrying Daniels. He finally slowed down and checked his rear to make sure that nothing had followed immediately behind him and breathed a sigh of relief as the lower stairwell was clear.
“Hellcat One to Hellcat Actual. Over.” Gordon said into his mic after switching over to the TCD Austin’s comm channel.
“This is Hellcat Actual Hellcat One. Sit rep?” Captain McAdams asked.
“We are five minutes from extraction point and we have hostiles inbound. This will be a hot extract, do you copy?” Gordon said.
“Copy that. Falcon One is inbound, ETA seven minutes.” McAdams said.
“Someone was rocking this boat a few moments ago. Are you tracking anything on your end?” Gordon asked.
“Uh, negative on that Hellcat One. Our skies are clear. We did register a massive power surge at the power core. My engineer says that this was caused by a power feedback loop from some other power fluctuation.”
Gordon recalled how the power flickered right after his grenade went off. He must have hit a power relay or something in the hallway. “Copy that, must have happened during a firefight. Please don’t tell me this thing is about to blow on top of everything else.”
“Roger that, I won’t tell you.” McAdams said.
A collective groan went through the squad.
“Really? You got to be kidding me.” Yamoto said with a sigh.
“Good news is the power feedback is pretty slow, power core overload won’t happen for another hour or so.” Captain McAdams replied.
“Thank God for small miracles.” Karzarian said.
“Have you heard from Hellcat Prime?” Gordon asked as he rounded past deck six.
“Negative on that. No word from Hellcat Prime, Two, or Three.” he replied.
“Hellcat Two is KIA.” Gordon reported.
“Copy that. Just get the rest of your men to the extraction point Hellcat One.” McAdams said.
“Roger that. Over.” Gordon said and switched off his mic and thought over the situation as they continued their way up to deck five.
Neither he nor TCD Austin had not heard from Captain Herrera in the last twenty minutes, which meant either they were pinned down, their comms were out, or they were dead. Considering the swarming nature of the hybrids and the fact that there were still three talishar running loose on the station, it was possible they were the only ones left. It was not a pleasant thought that of the twenty five marines that came onto the station, only five were coming back. They were supposed to be the best marines that Confed had to offer and they had been ripped apart by the mutated freaks created by the corporations. The thought made him glad that he had the data downloaded onto the TCD Austin.
Gordon refocused himself at the task at hand, checked their rear once more, and found it clear. He then checked forward and watched as McAdams and Karzarian locked down the door to deck five. They then moved up the stairs to deck four and repeated the process, but the control panel gave them the same error code that Gordon had trouble with earlier.
“Sarge, this door isn’t locking down.” McAdams reported.
“We don’t have any time to mess with it. Keep your eyes and ears peeled and move on.” Gordon ordered. He trained his R-92 carbine on the door as the rest of the squad made their way up the stairs to the last deck.
Once the squad was clear, he turned to make his way up the stairs when he thought he heard something. He quickly turned back around, pointed his carbine at the door, and listened. He heard it again a moment later, something that sounded like growling from behind the door.
“Marines, we got company.” Gordon said just before a roar thundered behind the door and a fist sized dent appeared. Whatever was on the other side of the door had dented the metal door in by a good six inches in one punch.
He took a step back up the stairs as a bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face. Then the red emergency lights went out throughout the stairwell.
“Infrared!” Gordon ordered and switched his HUD over to the light enhancing vision. The stairwell became green as his HUD compensated for the lack of light. He kept his eyes on the door and watched as another punch slammed into the door and buckled part of the metal door, enough that he could see something moving on the other side.
Gordon began taking faster steps up the stairs as he watched the creature on the other side reach its reptilian fingers into the breached door and begin to pry the door open slowly. With each inch that was torn open, the more head could see the face of the talishar that was on the other side. Through the infrared vision, he saw that the dragon’s eyes were practically glowing in the dark that allowed it to see as if all the lights were on. It was disheartening to witness and only made him move faster up the stairs.
“McAdams, get that door open up there!” Gordon called out as he reached the halfway platform and stopped. Moving around to the second set of stairs meant that he had to take his eyes off the talishar as it continued to try to open the door with brute force. Considering the breach in the door was now already wide enough for it to stick its massive head through, they did not have a lot of time left.
“Trying! There’s no power to open the door!” she called back.
A quick flash of images flashed in front of his eyes as Gordon imaged the talishar tearing down the rest of the door and charging up the stairs with hungry claws. He imaged the talishar ripped them apart one by one, as they were trapped in the stairwell because the blasted door refused to open. The thought of them all dying because a door won’t open was unacceptable to Gordon. They needed more time.
“Pry it open if you have to.” Gordon said and then started back down the stairs back towards the door. He extended the vibroblade on his carbine as he knew his carbine wouldn’t be any match against the hardened scales of the talishar.
He jumped down the last few steps and screamed a battle cry as he charged the door just as the talishar tore open the rest of the door to reveal its massive body. Gordon came in high with his vibroblade to try to jam the blade into the skull of the talishar while it was still occupied with the door, but the dragon was much faster than he anticipated and it managed to grab onto the barrel of his carbine just before the vibroblade scored a kill.
With an impressive display of strength, the talishar slowly flexed and turned its arm and bent the carbine to the right. It then yanked hard, pulled the gun from his hand, and broke the lanyard it was connected to. The dragon gave a low growl as it dropped the carbine at his feet, showing a row of very sharp teeth.
Gordon looked up at the dragon slowly as it stepped through the door and extended to its heights of nearly eight feet in height. He then cracked his neck from the left and then the right. “All right fucker. Let’s see if you’re as tough as they say you are.” he said.