He made no move as the Compiler eyed him. The ebon slime made no move as it inspected the hall. The glowing eye changed to a four-pointed star. A noise off in the hall caused the slime to turn away.
It then did a double take, snapping it’s eye to the strange hallway before flowing away to the source of the noise. Then more fighting began.
“It can’t see us.” Shindow started.
“Whoever invented mantilla… Adonai bless them,” Gideon replied.
Gideon braced himself against the wall, his life had flashed before his eyes at that moment. He felt dead.
If Gideon had chosen veiling, the outcome may not have been as positive.
“We need to hurry while it’s distracted,” Shindow suggested.
“There’s a door in front of us. Thread the hall through side routes?”
“I can’t think of a better plan. Don’t want to be in the main vein with that Compiler.”
Gideon stalked along, his suit noise was muffled, but noise was still there.
Should have grabbed the Ternicier.
“Come on Gideon, we need to move!”
Gideon rushed the hall, glancing to see the massive mound of ebon slime combating the crawler and brawler horde. His eyes went wide at seeing it casually batting away the numerous horde as it advanced. The crawlers and brawlers fought furiously, but were all consumed to instant ash upon contact. Whatever the Compiler was made of, acid was a weak term for the speed at which it disintegrated the foes. Large whipping arms slashed at the imp horde, bisecting a massive swathe of the demons.
Jesus… I’d hate to see Void being serious.
“Maybe it’ll help clear away to the bridge.”
Not a chance, we’re getting off this death trap. Maybe deploy a few walkers on the ice planet and vaporize it from space.
Shindow was silent at that.
Gideon tested the door just in front of him, finding it locked tight.
A singled Gnat materialized with veiling and began to dematerialize the locking mechanism.
“I doubt we would get anywhere without the QSD,” Gideon began, glancing nervously outside of the angled cubby entrance to see the Compiler vanishing in the darkness of the low lit hall.
“Owatta!” The Gnat cried on the internal comms. Stealth would make little sense from noisy exuberant Gnats.
Gideon gently pushed the circumvented door in, seeing a small armory. Gideon shut the door, allowing the Gnat to weld it shut.
“Now why weren’t the demihumans equipped with these?”
“Caught off guard? Couldn’t get there in time? Perhaps these were for customers…” Gideon mused, seeing rack after rack of strange weaponry.
Sixty-four Gnats appeared, staring blankly throughout the room.
“Uh, kids! Clean your room!”
“Clean your room?”
“It’s a metaphor!”
“But this is more like theft now.”
Shindow appeared in an orange ball of pixelated light, gazing at Gideon with a snide look, hands on hips.
“As I said, we’re rescuing this precious equipment from demons!”
“And we’ll return them… One day,” Shindow replied with a wink before floating around the room, gazing at the strange weaponry.
13 – Unknown weaponry
1 – Pulse Cannon – Federacy
“Oh, yes! Federacy weapons!” Shindow cried.
“Federacy? They’re… Still around?”
“Maybe! But who cares? They made good guns,” Shindow shot back.
She gently caressed a strange pistol, causing it to dematerialize it in orange pixelated light.
1 – Auto Pulse Pistol – Federacy
“I wonder if the Pan-Asians are still around?” Shindow asked, cocking her to the side.
“Who knows. Maybe Primetech is still around; we just haven’t found it yet.”
“Mm!” Shindow replied with a happy nod.
10 – Powder Long Guns – Jeffery H.
1 – Energy rifle – Mars Technocracy
15 – Powder Handguns – Jeffery H.
“That guy sure loves his crude powder guns…” Shindow commented to the inventory update.
“Everything appears to be a hodgepodge of technology. Noticed it with the medical room, too.”
“Perhaps we’re the most advanced people now…”
Gideon thought about that, with the Rumblers, the CK DINES, the Decima, the abundant QSD tech, Primetech equipment, and Prosine himself.
“Monday was really advanced. And beautiful.”
“Tell me about it. Our family was plain by comparison. Her tech, on the other hand, was just beneath Father, Abigail, and Amelia. From what I saw.”
“Who knows what a Faithful One can do?”
His QSD filled up with more powder rifles, some energy weapons, a twinning of hand tempest cannons courtesy of the Federacy, and ammo.
“I can’t hear it now,” Shindow commented, miming her hand to her ear.
“What the hell is a Compiler anyways? Void made it sound like it was her besties.”
“Best to avoid whoever that is,” Shindow replied as she floated atop Gideon’s shoulder.
“Next room,” Gideon said as he mentally prepped meeting that pale jammer again.
He listened intently, hearing nothing. He touched at the door, feeling it ajar. He opened it gently, feeling the hinges scraping against the metal. The door felt warped. He peeked inside, his suit vision adjusting in the low light. He heard far before he saw it.
The growling of a tiny dog.
Gideon pushed in, seeing Baxter battling a pale jammer. Battling was incorrect as the dog barked at the white demon, running just out of reach as it swiped. The demon moved cautiously as they both tested each other.
“Baxter!” Gideon cried, seeing the dog no worse for wear, apart from being caked in ash. Clouds of ash billowed off his fur with each movement.
The pale jammer snapped to Gideon, rushing to him. Baxter was faster, biting down on its heel and pull it back. The demon let out a shrieking bellow as it was pulled back, just out of reach.
“‘-ou -e a goo- de-on!” Baxter said with a mouthful of Achilles tendon.
The demon sunk its fingers into the ground, anchoring it to the floor. Baxter growled in frustration and began to death roll. He saw in graphic detail the heel and ankle twist, pop, and tear. The knee went first as it tore and popped, ripping away from the femur. Black blood splattered the floor as the demon made a pained shriek at losing its leg. The demon lunged at Gideon free of the dog’s grip. Gideon drew his shock lance and extended it, into the demon’s zipper maw. Gideon was knocked off balance as it gripped the lance with all four hands and twisted the lance to ruins, the blade still sticking out from the back of its throat.
The demon let out a gargling shriek as Baxter grabbed the other leg, pulling it all the way back to the room.
“-ou a-r -ad! Ver- -ad!”
Baxter did another deathroll, ripping the leg off and popping it out of its socket. The demon slowed as black blood flowed from the ripped and torn legs.
Baxter lept atop the demon’s back, pinning it in place.
“You are very bad! Bad! Don’t touch Gideon!” Baxter shouted, barking at the wounded demon. The demon reached behind, gripping the dog.
“Baxter!” Gideon shouted, drawing his firearm.
The demon gripped and attempted to squeeze the dog to gibblets. He could hear the fingers cracking and straining, the tendons tightening. A grip that could have beheaded Gideon from pressure alone was being applied to the dog.
And it did little more than pissing upwind.
Baxter gripped one of the hands and bit down, the sickening crunch rang out as the hand was practically bisected, spraying both dog and demon with blood.
“Gideon… Baxter is really strong.”
“No kidding…” He muttered, lowering the firearm as Baxter reared up on his hind legs and stamped down, crushing the demon’s spine with a snapping crunch. The arms went slack, its head twitching to and fro as it attempted to do anything.
“Baxter, where the hell have you been?” Gideon said, keeping his distance.
“Gid! It is you. I barked at bad guys and chased after them. They were trying to get you!” Baxter explained hurriedly.
Baxter addressed the demon, barking loudly at it.
“You are very bad you can’t hurt Gideon I will bark, bite, and beat you!”
The demon went still, unmoving as prey on the verge of being feasted on.
“Baxter, we have to go, we’re getting out of here!” Gideon replied, attempting to signal the dog over.
He was irreconcilable.
“But Gid, we have to help! There are demons and they are hurting my new friends!”
“I know- Baxter I know. There’s too many of them- we have to leave!”
Baxter hopped in place, slamming down onto the demon. The room splattered with a thousand droplets of black blood as the demon was squished into a dozen messy pieces. The remains crumbled to ash, giving Gideon a good idea of what it took to put down a pale jammer.
“Jesus…” Gideon muttered.
“He does like playing with his food…” Shindow snidely responded.
“Come on, we need to go-”
“No no no! Those beast humans need help! They are this way!” Baxter began, making his way to the exit.
“Oh no…” Shindow replied, knowing which room he was talking about.
“Baxter… They’re gone. We saw them… The demons- they got them.” Gideon began, kneeling down.
He turned back, trotting to the center of the room. Baxter’s ears drooped sadly as he let out a hollow whine.
“But I saved them…” He pleaded.
Gideon went in close to Baxter, gentle massaging his neck. He heard the pitter-patter of drips, seeing the ashen grey tears streaming from his sullen doggy eyes.
Shindow appeared in orange pixelated light, landing on the dog’s nose.
“I failed them, Gid.” Baxter began with a stuttering chuff.
“Baxter, it’s alright,” Gideon began as he dematerialized his gloves, “you did your best. We all did. Right now, we need to survive and make it back to Prosine. You’ve been a good boy.”
“Baxter. No one could have expected this. Yes, Deborah did say the demonic presence was weaker than yours, which implies you’re really strong.”
Baxter perked up slightly, his cheeks stained with soaked grey tear paths.
“Saddiffer says the same. I am a good doggy and those demons are bad guys!”
“That’s right. They’re bad guys and we’ll get them,” Gideon encouraged, using the dog’s vernacular.
Baxter shook his coat, dusting the area with ash as he pepped up. Shindow went flying into the air and dematerialized.
“I will stay with you this time. No more bad guys will hurt people!” Baxter replied with a chuff.
“Come on Baxter, through the room. Don’t want the Compiler to see us,” Gideon added, moving to the far end of the room and checking the door. He spotted another punched in a hole the size of a small dog.
“Uh. I made that…” Baxter admitted, twitching his ears and looking away guiltily.
“That’s fine, you were getting bad guys,” Gideon replied humorously as he rematerialized his gloves and closed his helm.
“Gid, I’m getting strange readings. It is a type of radiation in the next room.”
“We’ll be careful,” Gideon replied.
Anything that radiated anything demanded caution.
“Gid? Who are you talking to?” Baxter asked with a chuff.
“Oh, your QSD. We found it, but it needs repairs.”
“Oh… Yes. That is good,” Baxter replied, his eyes darting around as he looked away.
Gideon opened the warped door to the next room. He cringed at the screeching from of the stressed hinges. The room was arrayed with some weaponry, much of it were various melee weapons. Shindow materialized once again and began to scan the closest weapon; an ornate wavy Kriss.
“Gideon, these are radiating strange energy. I can’t decipher it.” Shindow began, tapping the hilt.
Gideon did an incredibly smart thing; he grabbed the hilt of the dagger to inspect it.
“No wai-!” Shindow cried.
Nothing immediate happened as Gideon turned the blade, feeling the weight of it. It was well balanced and looked to be sharp.
“Shin, I think it’s fine. Do you think these are enchanted like Prosine was telling us?”
“Enchanted- Oh! That must be why they radiate! And that must be why there’s only a few in this room. Rare loot!” Shindow said ecstatically. She began flowing around the room, storing as much as she dared; which was all of it.
1 – Claymore – #######
1 – Short Spear – ########
1 – Battleaxe – #############
1 – Combat Knife – ############
1 – Pulse Pistol – Federacy, ###########
“An enchanted pistol? I’ll have to try it later,” Gideon muttered.
Baxter sniffed at the air, his hackles raising.
“Gid I do not like that smell, no no no!”
Then he heard it. A gentle weeping. A wall of crates blocked off most of the right side of the room. He drew his pistol, his mantilla activating and blending in. Shindow veiled herself, prepping to dazzle with seizuring lights whatever it was.
Gideon began to scoot the corner, readying for an ambush.
The weeping continued.
He peaked the corner around the wall and spotted it.
It appeared to be the pale jammer from before, the one that had devoured the demihumans. It was larger, its pale hide was a tint of pink. It looked thinner, more elegant.
Half of the demon’s body was covered in hideous burns. It had lost much of its right arm, part of its face on the right side, and much of its side. He could see a black liquid eating away at the demon. It sat, back against the corner. Its left arm twitched and spasmed.
It snapped its head to Gideon. His heart jumped at the sudden movement, and the hideous wounds it had received, no doubt from its meeting with the Compiler.
“It’s you. Come to see me in my time of need?” The demon began. The voice was skin crawling; a bizarre mix of feminine and masculine.
“Don’t let my injury dissuade you. I’m feeling-” The demon began as it attempted to rise. It keeled over, coughing up black. It sprang to its feet, swaying and unstable. Gideon leveled the pistol at it, and then remembered what shooting at it did.
“You are bad go away or I will get you!” Baxter scampered into view, barking at the demon.
“And you! How did you become…?”
“I am Baxter and I will bite you go away go away go away!” Baxter responded with angry barking, irreconcilable.
“Gid looks like the Compiler can infect.”
“Don’t touch it. Don’t ingest it, right.”
“Maybe we can set things right. I just need to touch you…” The demon began. The lone eye trembled madly, gazing hungrily at Gideon
Gideon opened fire, the whisper snap of the pistol rang out, the sabot struck the demon.
And did nothing.
“Damn, should have predicted that.”
The demon flung a crate in their direction as it advanced. Gideon dove away as the crate flew past, slamming and collapsing on itself against the wall with a thunderous crash. Baxter rushed and lept, attempted to ram the demon’s torso. It pirouetted away, slapping Baxter away into the crate wall, collapsing it into a heap. The roar of scattering crates defeaned Gideon as he fell back, aiming for the wounds as he fired into the demon.
The demon sauntered to him, the melting stump of its shoulder fell off, splattering to the floor. It didn’t phase the tunnel-visioned demon.
The demon reached out its hand, only a few feet away.
“Please… Just let me hold you…”
Gideon pulled the enchanted dagger and threw it. It struck the demon in eye, embedding itself to the hilt. The demon stumbled back, shrieking as black blood fountained from the ruined eye socket. The demon gripped at the foreign object its hand sizzling as it burnt the flesh.
Well. that worked.
Baxter recovered and rammed into the demon’s legs, knocking it head over heels to the floor. Baxter bit down on its forearm, attempting to tear its arm off. The demon gargled in protest, thrashing around on the floor.
“Baxter, close your eyes!” Shindow shouted.
She rushed at the demon’s face, and become a ball of dazzling LED light, seizuring the stunned demon.
“Yes! Destroy me! Know the pain I fel-”
Baxter rushed to its throat, gripping the demon by the back of the neck and shook.
One firm shake snapped the demon’s spine. Baxter began biting and rolling on the demon, crushing and dismembering it. The body broke down in grey ash, crumbling to the floor and leaving only the black oil in its wake.
“Baxter get away!” Gideon shouted as the black ink began to flow, wrapping around Baxter in an attempt to devour.
“You are bad go away!” Baxter snarled as he rolled along the floor, wrestling with the sentient slime.
Gideon backed away, seeing the black oil was losing. It was unable to dissolve Baxter’s elder demon strength hide.
The slime was outmatched as Baxter began ripping and tearing at it. The slime broke free, flinging itself to the ceiling, searching for a way out. Shindow was nearby, trying to figure out how to support Baxter.
“Shin, get back in the suit! We need to hurry and book it before the big one shows up!” Gideon ordered in a rush. He felt relief that Baxter was stronger than the dissolving black slime.
Shindow turned, rushing back to Gideon.
His heart stopped.
A lance of ebon slime shot to Shindow spearing her through the torso, faster than thought.
Everything stopped at once as Shindow glanced down at the thin spear of black oil.
“Gideon?” She murmured her eyes blinking in confusion.
“Shindow! God no!” Gideon roared.
“Gideon I’m sorr-” Shindow began as she was yanked back and swallowed into the black host.
Running shutdown protocol for Shindow
Error, unable to ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR
Gideon suit sparked and blinded him as a sudden feedback loop shocked him.
Warning: system stability compromised
Warning: security compromised
AI Shindow has been removed
Rejoice in being chosen.
The voice stunned Gideon. It came from everywhere. Gideon stumbled to the ground, his suit locking up.
‘No… God no!”
The horror dawned on Gideon what exactly happened. The Compiler, which appeared as a biological force could hack technology. And it had just stolen Shindow. The ebon slime flowed to the door to the hall, flowing through the seems.
His heart fluttered at the realization that Shindow was just taken from him.
Baxter was jumping and barking angrily, trying to get it as he dusted the room with ash.
Gideon could do little at the moment than stare at the ceiling as his best friend was taken from him.
“Baxter! It has Shindow!” Gideon shouted. Panic cracked his voice as he got up, rushing to the door.
Baxter rammed the door, tearing it from the hinges. The door slammed to the floor with a steel ringing din. Baxter scampered after the slime, with Gideon sprinting at a full run behind.
The slime bounded and tumbled along, slowly outpacing them.
“Prosine! Prosine!” Gideon screamed into the comms.
“Good Gideon, are you alright-”
“It has Shindow! The Compiler. That slimy bastard killed Shindow!”
“The Compiler?” Monday broke in on the comms.
“Gideon dear, I do not know how a Compiler came aboard my vessel, but their purpose is to not destroy but to capture.”
Gideon felt the tension release at the news.
“How the hell can it grab an abstract AI? What the hell is that thing!?”
“It is a wicked servant of one of the demons that are attempting to fill that vacuum we spoke of…”
“The Compiler’s purpose is to gather and collect various species. For what purpose I do not know. I had little idea it could capture an AI.”
The slime tumbled and rolled along the wall, edging closer to the ceiling.
“Prosine! We’re losing it!”
Gideon and Baxter stopped upon seeing the silhouette horde in front of them.
“How the hell are there still any imps?”
The cacophony of death rattle gasps turned into a roar. The slime vanished into the dark, just out of reach; and out of range of his pistol.
“Shit! Prosine we need assistance!”
“Good Gideon, it appears the demons that were jamming the systems have been dealt with.”
“Gideon! I am here!” Deborah replied over comms.
The horde of brawlers began to rush, with Baxter barking and snarling at them.
Gideon materialized his scattergun, firing a volley into the crowd.
Brawler kill +1
Brawler kill +3
Gideon was chipping at a mountain. Baxter rushed, his little doggy legs carrying him fast to the mob. Baxter lept and crashed into the closest brawler crushing it in half at the hips. The brawlers descended, attempting to smother the dog. Black blood and body parts flew as Baxter bit, clawed, rolling and rammed with all of his doggy might. Gideon culled the sides, preventing any from passing Baxter’s whirlwind of doggy death.
Brawler kill +2
Brawler kill +4
A massive black shimmering screen rushed through the horde, dropping them through the massive portal. The portal vanished, and with it the majority of the mob.
“Deborah!” Gideon shouted as he put two more rounds into a rushing brawler. It keeled over headless, flowing black blood as it crumpled to ash.
Deborah dove into the remains with Baxter, her brace of pistols equipped.
Her arms acted independently as she put down several brawlers at once. Her wings slashed outward, bisecting the rest around her. An elbow strike shattered the teeth of a rushing brawler and then a vertical wing slash sent the two halves of the brawler falling like freshly chopped lumber. This was the first time he had seen her combat foes in melee. Her range of motion and combat style was bizarre as she used fists, legs, feet, and wings as weapons.
Gideon put a round into a brawler’s hips, buckling it to the ground as he dumped two more rounds, splattering the brawler to shreds. Gideon glanced over, seeing Baxter rolling around the ashen piles and Deborah scanning the hall for any more targets.
“Deborah!’ Gideon shouted as he made his over.
“Gideon, are you alright? We were stuck with those pale imps as soon as the crawlers dropped…” She began, her mouth pursed with frustration.
“Gid, we need to get Shindow!” Baxter barked.
“I’m… No. We need to get Shindow and get out of here,” Gideon replied.
He felt regret for having ever come aboard this ship.
For having ever seen Void.
“Monday told me what these cursed Compilers are,” Deborah began, holstering her pistols.
“Is everyone else fine?” Gideon asked, panic edging in his voice.
“Yes. Steak took some damage, however, Patricia was quick to repair. It is just Monday now. No one else from her crew made it,” Deborah explained, her head lowering in sadness of the loss.
“We need to move,” Gideon ordered as he began a sprint to the main crossroads vein.
Deborah flew behind with Baxter scampering along as they rushed back to the hangar entrance.
He was entering the stim window and could take another hit soon. He noticed there was no rubble from the DINES they lost.
“Gideon… I am sorry. As soon as the crawlers hit, I could not use my abilities. Those pale imps were lying in ambush. They only needed to standby and constrict us.”
Gideon thought that over, wondering if there was something else behind everything.
“You’ve said in the past imps lack critical reasoning. That means something else is behind this. That damned Compiler is the chaos factor.”
“With imps comes some sort of demon to command and lead them. Destroy it and the rest can be swept away.”
A crawler lept from a shadowed cubby, revving its disquieting clicking voice.
Deborah answered with a casual portal, threading it straight into space.
“I suspect their numbers are strained with this third party!”
Gideon’s heart spiked at the sudden scare and shock at the casual removal.
“Deb, will Shin be OK?” Baxter asked with a whine.
“If we can get to her and defeat the Compiler, then yes. Monday said they attempt to capture other beings; as if the wicked being behind it all runs a menagerie of lost souls.” Deborah stated bitterly.
There he spotted it, the four-way crossroad vein. Rubble, ash, and debris littered the area. He saw no bodies.
He made a beeline for the Decima, hoping to get reinforcements to rescue Shindow.
“Good Gideon, we see you,” Prosine announced calmly.
The hall to hangar glowed red, with two flickering glowing pillars on either side.
As he came in close he realized it was the combined light of several thousand DINES.
The pillars were lightning coils, standing sentinel to the hangar.
Monday came forward, her shoulders slouching.
“Gideon… I’m sorry for your loss. However, your well-kept secret, Prosine, informed me of the plan.”
Gideon glanced at the CK DINES as the hovered along, scanning for any activity.
“If it’s anything but find and rescue Shindow…”
“Good Gideon,” Patricia spoke up.
She strode through the group, wearing white and silver threaded robes, sporting a new chassis.
Her head was rounded with a single blue eye in the center. She sported for ball jointed arms, one of which held a longer nanite cane.
“We’re deploying the Rumbler,” Patricia stated plainly.
Gideon’s eyes went wide at hearing that.
A mass of glowing blue pixelated light caught his eye from behind. He turned to see a Rumbler slowly materializing in the hallway.
Except it was tiny in comparison, reaching only one hundred feet by thirty feet, filling the massive hall. Each of the legs were blunted, preventing it from sinking into the floor.
A glowing red eye dancing along the outer hull, staring at Gideon.
“This will not go unanswered,” Steak spoke from the Rumbler.
The CK DINES flowed from the room, with Monday tagging along.
“Good Gideon, it was my error and underestimation of the situation. It will not happen again. This should have been the response from the start.”
More massive clouds of blue glowing pixelated surrounded the Decima. Mini Rumblers assembled as vanguards, alongside several hundred more CK DINES.
“Go. Retrieve my daughter. Do not leave one alive,” Prosine began.
There was anger in that voice; he had only heard it when Baxter had revealed Saddiffer.
“How?” Gideon asked, gazing at the mini Rumblers.
“The Rumbler is a modular automata. Due to the limpid steel, I can regulate its size.”
“Gideon, my you are a man of many well-kept secrets.”
Gideon turned, opening his helm, glaring at her. His anger over the situation boiling over to her. He resisted the urge to strike her.
“When this is over, we’ll discuss payment.”
“Of course, that was the intent from the start, hon,” Monday replied lightly, immune to his glare.
Gideon felt the rumble as Steak trundled along, each leg a traveling din of noise. The DINEs floated around, scanning the dark ceiling for crawlers.
A hand jostled him out of his regret.
“Good Gideon, we are ready,” Patricia stated.
“Gideon, I will protect us until the end,” Deborah stated.
“And I will bark and bite them!” Baxter replied.
This time he wasn’t ignored as Gideon knelt down to ruffle his ears.
“And Gideon, check your inventory,” Patricia barely whispered.
He checked his directory of weapons, sorting by new.
Tempest Cannon – Primetech – Prosine & Patricia
A personal seven barrel energy cannon meant for suppressing fire.
Modules: Full, Burst, Single, Blast, Auto Aim, Barrel Cam, Laser sighting, Stabilizer, Support frame
2x Shoulder mount: Det Cannon – Prosine & Patricia
A shoulder mounted det cannon with minimum range to prevent friendly fire.
Modules: Auto aim, Minimum Distance, Quick Reload, Fragmentation, Blast, Concussion, White Phoshperous
Gideon glowed in orange pixelated light as he materialized the gear, his suit more than able to equip the load.
He gripped the tempest cannon, feeling the support arm running to his armored spine from under his right arm.
Gideon nodded in approval as his helm slid shut.
“Well? Let’s go!” Gideon ordered.
We’re coming for you, Shindow. Gideon promised.
The large army moved out, heading for the bridge.