Fiction Contest

Welcome home

Craig slammed his reinforced boot against the heavy metal door that closed with a bang. He turned and ran toward the lower areas of the research facility "Serenity". Half a second later the door exploded off its hinges and Craig felt intense heat on his back as green alien fire came through the opening. The base's alarms finally went off (what the hell had taken them so long anyway?!) and he sprinted half deaf to the nearest door and flung himself through it. With any luck he'd find one of his troopers here, someone capable of making a stand. A quick scan of the room proved disappointing as only a protocol droid greeted him with a metallic "Good day Sir, I have packed the remaining blankets and secured the loading of..." Its voice trailed off as Craig continued down a corridor to one of the base's larger storage areas. The automatic door hissed as a dry welcome and opened up.
In the center of the room a slender woman was standing. She was not wearing any armor save for a tight fitting red leather jumpsuit and an alien looking half-helmet that left her most striking feature visible, her eyes, that were as cold as distant blue stars. She didn't open her mouth, yet Craig could hear her voice as if she had been standing a feet away a still February morning.
"Sir, whats happening?"
"They are here", he screamed, " the bastards are inside! Celine, you are in their field of fire! Get down!" he shouted, as he dove behind some crates containing salvaged electronics.
"I know sir, I can.. feel them. Five of them, two just outside. I think... " She never got to finish as the door Craig had entered trough opened with a hiss and the slow pulse of alien firepower filled the doorway. Green rays flew widely through the room and Celine ducked to join Craig behind the crates. The marine returned fire blind, holding his modified assault rifle one-handedly. "Hang on sir" Celine said in his mind and Craig could see her focusing, every muscle in her face working. Blood vessels became more distinct and in the light of the green flashes she looked pretty alien herself, her eyes almost shining with intensity. Craig knew that psionics were the newest weapon against the invaders but Celine was newly assigned to him and he had never actually witnessed any real show of power from the psykers of the human race. Needless to say, he didn't trust it. Yet, he could almost feel something, like static electricity, pass by him and a second later the alien firing ceased. The blaring alarm was all that he heard and then, the screaming began. Voices, eerily human-like screamed in agony as whatever Celine did wrecked their bodies, twisting them with tremendous force. Craig was on his feet, advancing upon the aliens in the doorway, firing every two steps until the shapes lay perfectly still, their big rifles quiet beside them. Craig's breath caught in his chest as he saw the bodies.
Humans, both of them!
Damn turn-cloaks. It wasn't the first time Craig had come upon them, humans who saw the alien attack as God's retribution for the sinful way man had lived. They were little more than slaves to the invaders and usually relatively harmless, conducting their business in their twisted churches. Not this time though, this time, they had alien weaponry, this time, they had gone too far. Damn it! Not enough that they had to fight a complete alien race (he had heard rumors that it was more like half a race, but that really didn't matter now did it) but if their own kind sided with the alien, humanity's days were surely numbered. He spat contemptuously at the wretched corpses. "Scum." He thought. He grabbed a alien plasma gun and held it up to Celine. “You know how to use one of these?”
Instead of answering him Celine put two fingers to her temple and said. ”Sir! There are three more heading for the control room, Stephens and Jacobs are in pursuit.. sir... " she looked up at him, her eyes suddenly welling with tears, "... sir.. its Jacobs sir, he... he is.." Craig tried to block her out, didn't want to hear it, Jacobs had been with him since the aliens came, the closest thing he had to family in this apocalyptic world, but still the word came through like an unstoppable avalanche: "dead.”
No, nonono. This was supposed to be a standard mission, routine, drop supplies and return home! Not a mission to get killed on, killed by a bloody turn-cloak! He deserved better, but then, didn't they all? Shit! Jacobs! Be wrong Celine, be alive Jacobs! Alive, not dead!
The alarm went dead. Probably switched off from somewhere. Craig pushed his feelings and doubt aside, transferring his anger and grief to cold hatred and clerical precision, focusing. "Come", he said hoarsely as he made his way toward the base control room. They came upon Stephens shortly after, still trying to bring Jacobs back from the dead, hitting him on the chest with both hands. Stephens sweat mingled with Jacobs blood that covered most of the floor where he lay. Craig turned away his eyes, focusing on not looking at his dead friend, for a moment grimly wishing it was Stephens laying there instead. He ground his teeth and gave a low whistle. Stephens stopped beating his dead squad mate, stood up slowly, blood covered most of his ceramic armor and he greeted them both with a curt nod as he grabbed his weapon. He held up three fingers and pointed down the hall towards a door with the text "Authorized personnel only" on it.
Damn, Craig thought, the traitors were already inside the control room, who knew what damage they were doing in there. What secrets they could pluck from the mainframe access terminal if they had time enough. "Enough", Craig thought, "this line of thinking will get us nowhere." He signaled to Celine and Stephens to cover him. Grabbing and priming a incendiary grenade he gave the signal to fire. The roar of his companions gunfire couldn't quite drown out the beating of his own heart as he ran down the corridor toward the door. As bullets ricocheted all around him his mind was blank, never more then registered when a stray nicked him in the left arm, pain was for later. He dashed passed the door, seeing a hunched human figure inside he lobbed the grenade and then threw himself on the cold metallic floor. A warm wave of heat and pain followed a micro-second later and screams and fire once more filled the halls of Serenity. A figure wreathed in flame stumbled screaming through the door and collapsed in the corridor. The sprinklers went on and soon wetness drenched the flame, leaving the smell of roasted human flesh (a smell you never got used to and never forget) to be etched in Craig's mind.
He waited for thirty seconds and then entered the room, weapon at the ready, his feet making soft splashes on the overly wet floor. He tried to ignore the burnt bodies (it was easier then it once had been) and focused on making a damage assessment. System after system turned out ok until he came to subsystem A-14 in the defense grid. A red light indicated that that system was not operational and no matter how he tried he couldn't reset it. So, they turned off the base auto defenses. As well as.. activating something. Craig stared at a small glowing ball that had been attached close to the terminal. What was that thing? A strong sense of foreboding tugged at him. He raised his rifle and blasted the thing to smithereens but somehow he knew it was already too late. Maybe they could make a run for it, but he doubted it. Celine entered the room. "I can't sense anymore sir. We should contact the New Petrograd base and request reinforcements as well as a medivac for you sir. Sir?"
But Craig was silent. He held up his hand (that ny now was dripping blood freely) for silence and they listened. From above they could now clearly hear the proto-engines of the Reticulan mother ship slow down to a stop as the great ship landed. Drop doors opened and wave after wave of gray warriors emerged to begin the assault on the now defenseless research station. The new masters of the planet had arrived.
"Damn." Craig thought.
The End
Andreas Ahlgren