“Shit, shit, shit!” Gideon swore as he snap-shot into the demon. The rapid click snap of the rifle whispered as it spat deathly sabots.
The fifteen round burst cut into the demons skull, neck, and torso, splaying the area with fragmented skull, torn flesh, and black blood. The subsonic rounds punched into the wall behind, peppering into it with a thunderous din akin to an auto hammer. Multiple mug sized holes splayed on the demon as it stiffened from suddenly losing its head, black blood flowing as a bubbling fountain. It relaxed, falling forward with a strange gurgling.
Pale demon kill +1
Gideon felt relief at putting down such an intimidating creature. He glanced down at the rifle to see no holy glint.
Must be a range to her aura.
The demon fell, catching itself on all four hands along the ground. It pressed up, pushing back to its feet.
“Oh, you have to be shitting me!” Gideon bellowed as he turned. The demon lunged, slamming into the table and spilling all of the gear. The table warped in half on impact. The demon recovered turning to face Gideon with its supposedly minor head wound.
“Run!” Shindow screamed as the demon made a lumbering beeline for Gideon.
Pale demon kill -1
Gideon was already at the next door, rushing inside and slamming the thick hinged door shut. A wheel adorned the center, which he turned furiously until it locked shut with a silencing click. He felt a rumble against the door as the demon stumbled into it. He stepped back, hearing soft hands padding along the door.
Then the slam of the door startled him. The door bent inward, giving them less than a minute to find a way out.
“Scanning room… There are two more doors and-”
“Baxter!” Shindow cried.
Off to the side was a mound of ash burying a familiar item.
Gideon rushed, sweeping the ash away to find a torn square stitched dog sized vest with attached QSD. All of it was caked in ash.
“Baxter…” He began.
Gideon scanned the room, finding signs of a large fight, with crushed crates and torn floors and ceiling. The ash scattered the area implying plenty of demons had perished. The room was a complete wreck.
“I’m finding no signs of him. Sensors are still affected as are our comms. I’m slightly blind,” Shindow explained.
Another slam urged them to hurry as a door hinge tore and popped off the wall. One of six hinges.
“What the hell happened…” Gideon muttered as he stored Baxter’s suit and QSD into his. The torn vest and QSD dematerialized in orange pixelated light.
1 – Baxter’s QSD
1 – Baxter’s vest (torn)
Creating sub-directory of Baxter is the best doggy’s inventory.
“We need to go,” Gideon said as he rose, rushing to the first opened door. Baxter could still be alive and well
“I suspect we have seconds. Mines?” Shindow suggested.
Gideon materialized a det mine in the middle of the room, setting the sensitivity to high. The demon only needed to step into the room to get blasted apart. He rushed down the opened door, checking with the flashlights of his suit and gun. The room appeared empty, apart from the streaks and piles of ash. There was little damage in the room
He clicked the door closed, this one lacked the locking wheel. He felt a click as the door’s tumbler fell. Each door felt slightly different; a patchwork of architecture.
“On it!” Shindow said before he could order. Four Gnats materialized in orange pixelated light and began spot welding the door.
Another muffled slammed, followed by the din of metal hitting the floor alerted them that the door beyond failed.
Gideon backed away from the door, keeping away from the blast zone. He moved along the wall, rifle trained for movement. A muffled blast signaled the mine had detonated, and the demon with it. Gideon stopped to listen, hearing nothing.
“Those things are tough, and appear to disrupt comms and sensors…”
“Prosine come in!”
“Damn, it’s probably still alive.”
Gideon moved towards the only door in the room, gently pushing on the ajar entrance.
“We should finish it off!”
“Or we just need to get far enough away,” Gideon suggested, opting for the safe route.
“Owatta!” The Gnats shouted as they dematerialized.
He slid inside, gently closing the thick steel door. The room was large and heavily curtained. Everything looked pristine, implying the violence didn’t make it to this room.
“Gid, I didn’t see any blood. I think Baxter is alright.”
“This is true. For all we know, he tore them to ash.”
He thought back to the heavy bag Baxter burst to pieces on his weight alone.
He pulled back the curtain to reveal a large being staring disquietingly at him. The large bug eyes, massive oak arms, and black rubbery flesh were dead giveaways of a brawler.
Gideon gasped in surprise and let loose on instinct one of his tricks. He tossed the adamantite rifle into the demon’s face, smashing the nose flat. He began to dematerialize the rifle as he let go, blinding the demon with orange pixelated light. The demon’s mouth was snapped shut as it stumbled back, balancing on a leg. Gideon’s sidearm was in his hand and unholstered as he put several rounds into the supporting leg. The whisper snap of the pistol was quietly muffled by the curtains, tearing into the leg and shearing it off. The demon fell to the floor like a felled tree.
1 – Adamantite rifle (unnamed)
Gideon lept atop the demon, crushing its chest with his full weight to prevent its death rattle, feeling cracking of bone and shearing of rubbery flesh. He planted five more shots into the head, which splattered along the floor. His years of training had come back to him in an instant.
He lept off as his footing felt compromised by the demon’s corpse turning to an ash statue.
He holstered the pistol and materialized his rifle once again. His breathing was heavy at the sudden scare. It would have been worse if it managed to shout.
“That was amazing,” Shindow began.
“And Deborah said it wouldn’t work.”
“Well… She said it might not work. And maybe only once.”
“Yes. Once was all I needed.”
“Now do that fifteen thousand more times!”
“Just enough to get out of here; enough to find Baxter,” Gideon concluded as he surveyed the curtained room. Everything was sectioned off, implying either a medical room or science room.
Or a storage room for curtains.
The dimly lit room was silent as empty space, apart from Gideon’s breathing. He cautiously made his way through each curtain, making sure to check before barging in like the last time.
The center of the room was littered with overturned tables and crates. The contents of the spilled table appeared to be medically related.
“Gid, looks like nanite cultures. We should take a look at them!”
“You mean steal them?”
“I mean protect them from the demons!”
“Sounds like corporate espionage,” Gideon shot back snidely.
Gideon had already grabbed a capsule, dematerializing it in orange light. He had little qualms at this point.
Just think of this as payment for help.
1- Nanite culture – Coreturn
“Coreturn, that’s a new one. I’ll process it later.”
“Alright, we can’t stay for long. Baxter could be at the stern by now.”
Gideon continued on, attempting to make heads or tails of the exits to the room. He gently pulled aside a certain, checking his left.
There he spotted another. It’s large bulbous head sported squinted eyes and a strange ragged membrane for a mouth. It was poised on all fours, with each limb sporting three triangular claws. It emitted a revving clicking at spotting him. Gideon’s heart jumped at the sudden scare.
He snap shot a fifteen round burst in the crawler, it’s head and torso shredding to pieces. They were much weaker than brawlers by far.
“Behind!” Shindow warned.
Gideon ducked as heard the scraping of metal and was knocked from behind. He had ducked in time as another crawler tumbled to the floor in a tangle of rubbery limbs as it overshot, clipping his back. Gideon rolled to his back, letting the gun camera do the work as he sprayed another burst into the creature, peppering it with mug sized holes. The curtain was sprayed with black blood and sabot holes as the crawler fell apart to ruins. Another crawler scurried from under a certain and took advantage of Gideon’s vulnerable position, leaping atop him. Gideon shielded himself with the rifle with the creature’s claws clamped down, expecting to crush the weapon.
He felt the overwhelming impossible strength of the smaller creature, his suit straining to keep up. He stared into the dead squinting eyes of the crawler as it made its stomach churning revving clicking noises as the demon pressed down atop him. The rifle attachments were ruined, but the adamantite remained true. He couldn’t let go, and was unable to shake loose.
Orange pixelated light formed above Gideon. Shindow appeared in her tiny form with an angry scowl.
“No you don’t!” She yelled.
Her form changed to a sphere of bright LED light, dazzling the crawler with a kaleidoscope of seizure inducing colors. The crawler recoiled, attempting to cover its eyes from the sudden bright assault. Gideon dropped the rifle and unholstered his pistol, firing a flurry of rounds into its chest. The crawler fell to its back, thrashing about as a dying insect. Gideon rushed to his feet, planting more shots into the crawler until it ceased moving.
“Sonofabitch!” Gideon swore.
The room was quiet, with no more response.
He inspected the rifle, seeing all of the non adamantite attachments were ruined.
“Goddammit…” He swore quietly.
It would need repairs to strip off the torn parts. The rifle dematerialized in orange light. A pulse scattergun took its place.
He felt a frustration in his gut over losing his prized weapon.
“I’m sorry Gideon, when we get out of this we’ll make it nice and new again!”
He turned to address her as she stood at eye level, hands clasped behind her.
“And thank you for the save.”
She grinned a closed eye smile at that before vanishing back into the suit.
Gideon doubted he would have lasted long without her.
He checked sights and ammo for both weapons, refilling the pistol. He materialized a shock lance and kept it retracted at his waist. This version was a forked blade, akin to an extendable short spear or as a dagger.
His nerves were shaken over the ambushes. He took a moment to stabilize himself.
“Are you alright?” Shindow asked.
“Shaken, but we need to keep moving,” Gideon replied, trying to shrug it off.
He glanced down at the ash statues. He felt disconnected from the whole ordeal, as if his intellect took a backseat to his subconscious desire to survive. He shook from his fog, continuing his search. He reached the far end of the room without conflict, finding a door with a small hole punched through it. Whatever happened, it had torn through the door and continue on into the room within.
“I don’t know anyone else that could do this,” Gideon replied, musing at the blossomed hole.
“What was Baxter doing??”
“Probably chasing bad guys.”
“What if Saddiffer…” Shindow began.
“Remember the contract? Covenant?”
“Baxter is the best doggie, I remember.”
“But would that cover mental manipulation?”
Gideon thought it over for a moment. Baxter was stubborn for his ideals, especially protecting the crew. A potential weak point for manipulation. Gideon nodded at that. Monday did say Saddiffer’s presence was weakening, which either meant he was changing to a Eudaemon fully, or he was dying- depleting.
“Either way, we need to find him.”
“We need to find the rest of the crew…”
Gideon was silent at that. Deborah had stated the demonic signature was weaker than Saddiffer.
How strong is Saddiffer, exactly?
Gideon shrugged off the question and just accepted that it was better he was on their side.
He felt at the door, feeling the loose handle. He gave a gentle push to the ruined door, feeling it give and swing inward. The warped hinges squealed with stress, causing Gideon to internally flinch.
He shined the LED torches inside, exposing the being in the center of the room.
“Shit, another demon… A- A Pale jammer or whatever,” Gideon began.
What the hell is it doing??” Shindow asked, her voice filled with concern.
He could hear it crunching down on something gripped between its four hands.
The demon turned, exposing what it held.
It was the bloodied lower torso of what appeared to be a small demihuman. The body broke down into a brown glowing mote, leaving the remnants of gear behind. The demon gingerly grasped the mote, then shoved it down its zipper maw gullet. Blood covered the entire room, as did torn clothing and gear. It implied the room had been full of people moments before.
“Oh my God…”
The demon’s flesh rippled and changed, becoming larger and thicker than before. Flesh flowed around the zipper maw, sealing it shut and giving it a normal jaw. A large yellow eye grew on the right side of its face, which blinked as it snapped to Gideon. It rose to its eight foot height. It gave a slight grin as he scoffed a laugh at the smaller man in front of him.
Gideon snap fired, the scatter gun emitted a zip bang as the silenced subsonic sabots rushed to the demon.
And did nothing. There was no affect; no pushback, no damage. The sabots ricocheted off in a wide spread, dashing against the walls.
The demon looked down to inspect itself, and then turned back to Gideon. The grin grew wide as it slowly strode to him.
“Dammit!” Gideon swore as he turned and slammed the door shut.
He bolted back into the curtained room, opting for speed over stealth. He heard the brief noise of shearing metal, then the slamming of a flung door on the other side of the room they fled. It was already inside, tearing through the curtains.
A rogue brawler blocked his path forward. It gazed him with its massive unblinking eyes.
He double tapped it in the head and shoulder checked it to the ground. He didn’t bother to check if was down for good as he fled. And then he heard the death rattle gasping of more.
And then the revving clicks of more crawlers. The room was suddenly packed as they began to close in.
“Activating mantilla!” Shindow cried.
Gideon pulled back away from the noise, ducking past a curtain. His armor and body vanished, changing to blend into the surrounding; all were perks of having the Machine Father as the ships main AI who knew his tech well. He crouched through several curtained rooms along the wall, finding nothing. The noise had culminated to the center of the room. He made it to the room’s corner, trying to find anywhere to hide. He pulled back a curtain, finding in the corner of the room was an operating table surrounded by a mass of crates.
“Oh, a closet back there!” Shindow said as she spotted the top of a discrete door, passed the crates. Gideon slowed down, sneaking behind as the imps continued their ravaging of the room in their mad search for human flesh and soul. He crouched down, skulking around the pile of crates to the door. He quickly rushed inside, opting for speed over security.
The room was a small closet, filled with medical and cybernetic equipment. Gideon gingerly shut the door and backed up to the far wall, letting the mantilla take affect.
“Shin, I think that demon was growing,” Gideon began.
“Just like Saddiffer. Deborah told us about it… Devouring souls to grow. Hearing about it sounded disturbing… But seeing it-”
The walls rumbled as a crate slammed into the floor nearby, interrupting Shindow.
“I have a theory on those pale jammers. Don’t be alarmed.” Shindow began.
Tachodine nacelle shutdown…
“Shindow wai-” Gideon began. The mantilla cleared as the suit shutdown, leaving him in pitch blackness. He could still move stiffly, but could not act quickly.
He then realized what she was attempting to do.
Pale jammers… Can they sense my QSD or nacelles?
The chaotic din rumbled from the room outside. He could hear the tearing of cloth, crashing of tables and crates, and dashing of sensitive equipment. All of it was background noise to the death rattle gasps, revving clicks, and the inquiry of the larger demon.
“Where did you go?”
“Please let me just… Look at you.”
The voice was soft, almost feminine and in no way human. Chills ran down his spine at the disquieting voice.
“Where did you go?”
“I know you’re lost… I can help you find the others. I can… Reunite you with them.”
Like that’s going to work.
But it did confirm the theory. The pale jammer they first discovered tracked them easily without its head. The pale jammer appeared to highly durable, surviving with missing limbs, and multiple fatal wounds
“Now that we’re alone, I can finally check up on you,” A disquieting child’s voice began, just off to his right.
Gideon slowly craned his head, staring to stare into the dead eyes and smiling mouth of the creature of Nothing. The room had changed, becoming as a black hole.
She opened her mouth, licking Gideon’s helm. He felt instant numb revolt at that. The dreams of Entropy returned. The nightmare phantasmagoria shocked him as it returned to the thin surface of his consciousness. The horror that even Deborah feared was just in front of him. The empty blank Nothing, the sum total opposite of everything was addressing him.
His heart stopped at seeing her again. He felt his right hand tremble, similar to the withdraw he experienced weeks ago. He would rather be outside with the pale jammer if it meant getting away from this being. This terror.
This waking nightmare.
Void blinked as her face cocked to the side. Her isosceles teeth glinted in the unknown light. And then she spoke. That horrible maddening voice. That voice of a child that wanted to kill you.
Gideon stood there, silent at seeing the sudden aberration.
“Mleh!” She replied, sticking out her tongue.
“Are you scared? I bet, those demons are going to get you!”
“Or I could be in here with you,” Gideon shot back instinctively. He mentally shot himself at attempting to provoke the creature.
It ignored him as it continued.
“And that’d be no fun.”
“All your friends, including your doggie are gone. You are really lost, like I was.”
“Yeah? And what did you do?”
She seemed to think for a moment, rolling her eyes in thought.
They snapped back to Gideon.
“I got more friends!”
“But you don’t have anyone besides the light lady, so… I’ll get you some more!”
Gideon felt his pulse slamming through his suit.
“I know the perfect friend for this.”
“I have many,” She looked proud of herself for a moment before continuing.
“It’ll have to be… Hmmm… It has to be big, but also small for these tiny rooms… It has to be strong and pretty tough…”
Gideon gently nodded his head, silent at what was happening. His mind was reeling over her presence. It was stifling, suffocating, and numbing.
“It also needs to be pretty neutral towards you, but not enough to be… And then it has to fight an army…”
Her eyes squinted as she thought.
It was like viewing an indecisive executioner. The axe, the bullet, or the volts?
Then she grinned wide, her mind made up.
“Ooooh, let’s do the Compiler!”
“Just stay out of its way and don’t aggress. Also don’t get spotted by it either. Also don’t go near it. Or ingest it. Or touch it, no sir!”
“Otherwise you’ll die!”
Die, die, die, die, die…
The way she used that word caused Gideon to flinch. The word echoed in his head, as if it was on repeat. No other being he met since after his flight had used that word; apart from himself, Shindow, and Baxter.
“It was a gift from a friend, she’s my bestie!”
“Also, if she shows up angry at someone using her Compiler, just say Void made you do it!”
The room returned to a normal medical closet. Gideon’s mind reeled as if he had been beaten. Everything about Void was wrong. The more he met her, the worse he felt. He remembered the first dream with Entropy, and not understanding what he was viewing. But the more he knew, the more it haunted him.
Don’t ingest it? What the hell is she talking about?
Then he heard a rushing of noise, as if the vessel itself was being torn in half. He tried to cover his ears but his deactivated suit did little to help. Then he heard new noises.
“Is it a new friend?” The pale demon asked.
Then it shrieked a long hideous scream. Gideon could hear the thumping of footsteps as it fled, crashing through one of the locked doors.
Then the crashing din continued, amplified several times over as whatever Void had brought to their reality had began annihilating the room. He felt an earthquake rumbling the room, vibrating all of the equipment to the floor.
Gideon decided he needed Shindow and his QSD back.
Instance 10343666 created
OS: Corbenic v.50.00
Name: Gideon McDonough (CEO; Super Administrator; Creator)
Status: Pinnacle Health
Quantum Charge: 243,450/260,000 QC
Galactic Nebula: ERROR NO SIGNAL
Great, thank you, Satan.
Gideon chided at his triple six instances.
“Gid, did it work?”
“Yeah, it did… We have worse problems.”
“H-her!?” Shindow stammered.
“Apparently she can get to me anywhere.”
“An Intergalactic stalker!”
“I know, right?”
“She just dumped a creature in the room beyond. Called a Compiler…”
Gideon explained to Shindow what occurred.
“Don’t ingest it??”
“Whatever this thing is, it’s probably powerful enough to clear out the ship. She said she needed it to fight an army…”
“Gid… I’m sorry I shut down. You shouldn’t have to face it alone-”
“Shin, you were protecting us from those damn jammers. Void was just a chaos factor.”
“I know, I just-”
“Shindow. Thank you,” Gideon replied with genuine gratitude, interrupting his friend. She saved his hide twice over now. He tapped at his helm, an acknowledging gesture.
“But I need to-”
Gideon refused to abate.
“Whatever happens, you’ve been the one I’ve needed in this journey,” Gideon continued.
Shindow went quiet at that.
“…Thank you.” Shindow replied.
That tone and her pause implied something.
He may not have been the only one struggling with this new galaxy.
Talk later. Survive now.
If my family could see me now…
The thunderous din ceased, leaving a roaring silence in his ears. Gideon reached for the door, attempting to open it.
Something had braced itself against the door. All logic dictated the remnants of the room at had scattered to the walls, bracing them in.
Several Gnats materialized, going into stealth mode.
“Gid, my scans are good again, whatever Void summoned scared off that jammer.”
“We should be able to burrow through the wall, to the main hall.”
Shindow whispered an order, which was silly because only Gideon could hear her.
“OK kids, wall to hall!”
The Gnats began to do their work discreetly, the wall beyond slowly vanished in tiny square bricks.
“Prosine, come in.”
“…Good Gideon, you are alive.”
“Prosine, Jesus, it’s good to hear from you? Is everyone-”
“All crew accounted for, including Monday. I have lost contact with the Demihumans. We are fortified in the hangar. Deborah was worried about you. Where is Baxter?”
“Baxter is MIA. We found his gear, but I think he’s been hunting imps… For fun.”
“Understood. QSD network connection is compromised. Interference is ongoing.”
“We know. We met him already. A demon that can jam and detect tech,” Gideon explained.
“We’re calling it a pale jammer.”
“Let them know we’re fine. Prosine. I met her again,” Gideon began. Prosine knew right away who he was speaking of.
“That is unfortunate…”
“She summoned a being capable of destroying the demons aboard. Except it’s now a third party and will destroy us if it sees us. Do not engage. She called it a Compiler.”
“Understood. We are preparing evac. Once you return, we leave.”
Gideon felt a twisting in his gut at that. He didn’t like the idea of abandoning the vessel, but there was little choice. Slowly, the wall vanished, his inventory was silent, as he turned off mundane announcements. All sixty four Gnats were working to mine a tunnel to the outside. He finally caught sight of beams of light from the other side.
“Prosine, we’re reaching the main hall now. We’ll need reinforcements to get to you.”
“If you an eliminate the jammers, I can send them direct.”
His scattergun dematerialized in orange light. He was now opting for full stealth, relying on his pistol, mantilla, and wits.
Find Baxter. Don’t eat the Compiler. Kill the jammer. Get the hell out. Easy.
“Owatta!” The Gnats announced before their vaporous forms vanished.
The began to stalk down the makeshift hall Seeing no signs of the tidal flood of crawlers. Or anything. He got to the exit, seeing only the dim brass halls. He stopped at the noise.
He heard the rushing and flowing noise of viscous water.
“Stay still!” Shindow whispered.
And there it flowed into view. The hallway went dark as the shadow began to pass over.
His stomach dropped at what he was seeing.
A massive mound of gelatinous black oil slime. It was flowing along, searching. A large stalk was above the main host, scanning the hall. It snapped to the new opening, staring at Gideon with a single glowing red slit.
The eye splayed, changing to a three pointed star. The ebon slime stopped moving, staring at Gideon.
“I-I think that’s the Compiler…”
Gideon felt his suit locking, preventing trembling. His mantilla was still active, blending in with the hallway.
The glowing three pointed eye changed to a twenty pointed star.
It let out a low rumbling bass thrum that he felt to his bones.
“Well Shindow, this has been an interesting journey…”